Talking Gender in Europe 2023-2024

Talking Gender in the EU 2021-2022

The European Union has set impressive standards on gender equality, providing legal frameworks for equal pay, investing in work/life balance and childcare, and allowing for positive action to advance equal treatment of women across member states. At the same time, Europe witnesses considerable backlash from anti-gender activists and right wing reactionary movements, calling into question gender equality as a core norm of European democracies.

In response to this evolving situation, the Center for European Studies at the University of Washington presents a lecture series covering gender politics in Europe and the European Union. Contributors will investigate actors, institutions, and policies in the area of gender in Europe, offering perspectives on current challenges and possible versions of the future.

Elise Rainer | From Pariah to Priority: How LGBTI Rights Became a Pillar of American and Swedish Foreign Policy

Thurs. Feb. 17, 2022 at 12:00pm PST | Online via Zoom

Elise Rainer (Ph.D. International Studies 2016) is Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington Department of Scandinavian Studies and Co-Founder of Aurora Global Advisors, a consulting firm that advises foreign policy leaders and organizations on human rights and justice global programs. She is a former diplomat with the U.S. State Department, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and USAID. Along with her recent book on LGBTI rights in foreign policy, Dr. Rainer has published in numerous foreign policy outlets including: Foreign Policy, Democracy and Security. Diplomacy & Statecraft, and NPR’s Academic Minute.

Rainer’s book, “From Pariah to Priority: How LGBTI Rights Became a Pillar of American and Swedish Foreign Policy,” gives a unique, insider perspective that explains the unexpected incorporation of LGBTI rights into the United States and Swedish foreign policies. Through case study analysis, former diplomat Dr. Elise Rainer offers exclusive insights into how normative values influence foreign affairs. From original data and interviews with high-level officials within the State Department and across U.S. foreign policy institutions, the book provides original insights from leaders responsible for shaping emerging LGBTI global policies. Sweden was the first country to implement a feminist foreign policy and commence formal LGBTI diplomacy. As other countries replicate these policies, Sweden is an important country to follow for international human rights trends. This book contextualizes the diplomatic precedent of revamping foreign assistance to Uganda when lawmakers proposed a death penalty law for homosexuality. The book scrutinizes effective tactics for advocacy organizations to influence foreign policy institutions. It also explores current debates in the area of gender and sexuality in foreign affairs, and offers pragmatic policy recommendations for civil society organizations, foreign policy leaders, and human rights practitioners.

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Christina Fiig | EU Gender Policies in a Context of (Quasi) Permanent Crisis

Christina Fiig is an Associate Professor at the School of Culture and Society, Section for Global Studies (European Studies), Aarhus University, Denmark, has authored the paper “Gender Equality Policies and European Union Policies” (Oxford University Press 2020) and co-authored the chapter “The Populist Challenge to Gender Equality” with Birte Sim (Routledge 2021).

Since 2008, the EU has been struggling with the “interrelatedness of the Euro, refugee and Brexit crisis” (Caporaso, 2018), with the rise of populism (Erman & Verdun, 2018), and most recently with the Covid-19 pandemic. There are good reasons to assume that these multiple crises may be here to stay (Dinan, Nugent, & Paterson, 2017), as they are the result of many factors that are at once local, domestic, European, and global (Erman & Verdun, 2018). In this lecture, Dr. Fiig will establish a context of (quasi) permanent crisis as a framework for understanding the contemporary developments in EU gender policies and the rise of rightwing populist parties and voices in the European Parliament.

Tues. May 17, 2022 at 12:00pm PDT | Online via Zoom

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Read more about the 2021 installments in the Talking Gender in the EU series below.

The 2021 series began with Dr. Laura Dean’s lecture, Political Ethnography with a Gender Lens in the Latvian Parliament, on March 1, 2021.

Dr. Dean spoke about her research of the Latvian Parliament and the often-deceptive appearance of representation of women in Latvian politics. Her experiences of observing the Latvian Parliament sessions in-person and interviewing politicians provided interesting data that she unpacked for listeners even while her research continues.

Laura A. Dean is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Human Trafficking Research Lab at Millikin University, and a Regional Faculty Associate at the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In 2016, she was a Title VIII Summer Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in International Studies focusing on Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Dr. Dean researches gender and politics issues focusing on women’s representation, public policy, and gender-based violence in Eurasia. Her book Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia was published by Policy Press at the University of Bristol in May 2020.

Dr. Dean’s lecture was recorded and is available as a podcast here.


On April 22, 2021, Dr. Amy Mazur presented her lecture Gender Parity in France.

Amy G. Mazur is Claudius O. and Mary W. Johnson Distinguished Professor in Political Science at Washington State University and an Associate Researcher at Centre d’Etudes Européennes, LIEPP, Sciences Po, Paris. Her recent books include The OUP Handbook of French Politics (edited with Robert Elgie and Emiliano Grossman, 2015) and The Politics of State Feminism: Innovation in Comparative Research (with Dorothy McBride, Temple University Press, 2010). She is currently co convening, with Isabelle Engeli (Exeter University), the Gender Equality Policy in Practice Network (GEPP), and is Lead Editor at French Politics and a Fellow-in-Residence at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research -ZIG, Bielefeld University.

Dr. Mazur’s lecture was recorded and is available as a podcast here.


Next, on April 27, 2021, Dr. Elżbieta Korolczuk joined us for her re-scheduled lecture Anti-Gender Politics and Rightwing Populism in Poland.

Elżbieta Korolczuk, PhD, is an Associate Professor in sociology at The School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University in Stockholm, Sweden and American Studies Center, Warsaw University. Her research interests involve social movements, civil society, and politics of reproduction, as well as right-wing populism and mobilizations against “gender”.

She co-edited two books on motherhood and fatherhood in Poland and Russia (in Polish) and published two volumes on social movements and civil society in Central Eastern Europe, titled Civil Society Revisited: Lessons from Poland co-edited with Kerstin Jacobsson (Berghahn Books, 2017), and Rebellious Parents: Parental Movements in Central-Eastern Europe and Russia co-edited with Katalin Fábián (Indiana University Press, 2017). Most recent publications include an edited volume Bunt kobiet: Czarne Protesty i Strajki Kobiet [Women’s Rebellion: Black Protests and Women’s Strikes] co-authored with Beata Kowalska, Jennifer Ramme and Claudia Snochowska-Gonzalez and published by European Solidarity Centre in 2019, and the monograph Anti-gender Politics in the Populist Moment written with Agnieszka Graff (in press, Routledge). She is also a commentator and a long-time women’s and human rights activist.

Dr. Korolczuk’s lecture was recorded and is available as a podcast here.


To close the lecture series, Dr. Petra Ahrens gave her talk Gender in the European Parliament on May 13, 2021.

Petra Ahrens is Senior Researcher in the ERC-funded research project EUGenDem at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University, Finland. She previously held positions as Assistant Professor at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2014-2016) and as Marie-Curie-Sklodowska-Fellow and Guest Professor at the University of Antwerp, Belgium (2017-2019). Her research focuses on gender policies and politics in the European Union and its institutions, transnational civil society organisations, and gender equality in Germany. She co-chairs the ECPR Standing Group on Gender and Politics and is editor of the German feminist journal Femina Politica. Alongside articles, she is the author of Actors, Institutions, and the Making of EU Gender Equality Programs (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), co-author with Katja Chmilewski, Sabine Lang, and Birgit Sauer of Gender Equality in Politics – Implementing Party Quotas in Germany and Austria (Springer 2020), and co-editor, with Lise Rolandsen Agustín, of Gendering the European Parliament: Structures, Policies, and Practices (Rowman & Littlefield / ECPR Press, 2019).

Dr. Ahrens’ lecture was recorded and is available as a podcast here.

The Talking Gender in the EU lecture series is organized by the Center for European Studies and the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence with support from the Lee and Stuart Scheingold European Studies Fund, the EU Erasmus+ Program, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, and the Center for Global Studies.