Backsliding of Women’s Rights in Central and Southeast Europe: Who is to blame?

Kursnummer: 114721on

When: Wednesday, 3 November 2021, 9:00-10:30 CET
Where: Concordia Cloud

Registration is mandatory. Registered participants will receive a Zoom link one day before the event. Registration deadline: Tuesday, 2 November 2021 at 18:00CET.

Register now.



Andrea Krizsán, gender expert and professor at Central European University (CEU). Senior Research Fellow at the Democracy Institute and Professor at the School of Public Policy and the Gender Studies Department. Her research focuses on understanding policy change in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Based in Budapest.

Iveta Radičova, sociologist and politician. She served as the first woman Prime Minister of Slovakia from 2010 to 2012. Radičová began her political career in 1990 as a member of the Public Against Violence movement, serving as a spokesperson of the party until 1992. From 2005 to 2006, she served as Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in the centre-right government of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, among other political engagements. Currently, she serves as Dean of the Faculty of Mass Media at the Pan-European University in Bratislava.

Zsuzsanna Szelényi, research fellwo, foreign policy specialist, former MP.  Member of the Parliament (MP) from 1990 to 1994 (Fidesz) and from 2014 to 2018 (together, then non-partisan). She has held numerous political and party positions, until she left the party and her mandate ended. Currently, Selényi works as an independent political analyst, and is completing a book on Hungarian economy. Europe’s Futures Alumna.

Ruzha Smilova, professor of contemporary political philosophy and history of political ideas at the Political Science Department of Sofia University and is also a program director at the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria. IWM Fellow.

Oana Popescu-Zamfir, director of the think tank Global Focus. Editor-at-large of Foreign Policy magazine Romania, contributor to Stratfor, Aspen Review and other international publications. Formerly a journalist and then Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Romanian Senate President. In 2016 she served as State Secretary for European Affairs at the Romanian Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Security, and the Elderly. Based in Bucharest. Europe’s Futures Fellow.

Concept and Moderators

Ivan Vejvoda, Europe’s Futures; Mirjana Tomić, Presseclub Concordia, fjum.

Background and Format

What is the situation of women’s rights in Central and Southeast Europe? They seem to be backsliding parallel to the rise of illiberal democracies. Restricting reproductive rights, refusing to sign and/or ratify the Istanbul Convention, claiming that gender issues are imported and imposed by Brussels, portraying traditional families as the only acceptable living arrangement are among policies and themes presented to the public. Using misogynistic language is publicly tolerated. In fact, it is used by politicians and public figures.

During Communism, women enjoyed equal legal status but there was scarce gender awareness. Transition period did not include women’s policies on the agenda. Currently, backsliding is taking place and public debate is mostly absent.

Why is this backsliding possible? Does the presence of women in leading positions make a difference?

Gender expert Andrea Krizsán will offer an overview of the current situation, followed by a conversation with Radičova, Selényi, Smilova and Popescu-Zamfir, women who had political power and/or have been active in public life as professors or journalists. What is their view? Are they surprised, or they expected current developments? What can be done to stop the trend?

Target Groups

Vienna-based journalists, as well as journalists from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. International journalists and academic experts are welcome.

Number of participants: Maximum 70


An interactive Q&A will follow a conversation with the speakers.

Further Questions

For additional information about the session, contact Mirjana Tomic,, or call 0676 365 26 93.

European Contexts

Upon request of Austrian and Central European media representatives to create an informal regional platform/network of journalists, four organisations decided to support this initiative, aimed at strengthening quality journalism and fostering professional networks among media, think tank analysts and academics. The initiative consists of seminars that address themes of common interest and enable participants to meet and discuss.

03.11.202109:00 - 10:30
kostenlos. Anmeldung erforderlich. (1 fjum_Punkt)
Ruzha Smilova, Oana Popescu Zamfir, Andrea Krizsán, Zsuzsanna Szelényi, Iveta Radičová
Online (Zoom)