SuPWR Output

Understanding backlash to sustain women’s rights


Women’s struggles across the world have sought to redistribute power to achieve equality between women and men. Many of these have seen some real and hard-won successes. These gains have ranged from changing the discourse around feminist demands and the quest for equality, to changes in laws, policies, and implementation. They have also included changes in social norms that have shifted how different genders engage with each other, and enabled women to claim (or re-claim) more public space, both physical and virtual. However, backlash against feminist gains is also now a visible phenomenon around the world, and especially in South Asia. Backlash is often a reaction against specific moments of gains by women – shifts in power have consequences – or it may be more structural. It may be a response to real changes in power dynamics between women and men, or it may even be a response to perceived changes, or even the threat of change. It is always, however, an attempt by men (and women) to re-assert and maintain patriarchal privileges and controls.