Activity 1: Women and the erosion of freedoms

1 hours 30 minutes


Linking to Module 1 (Contemporary Challenges to Freedom), this activity will help us to highlight the erosion of women’s freedoms around the world through authoritarianism, technology and inequality by investigating a series of case studies.


Around the world an erosion of women’s personal freedoms has begun. Globally, there is a debate about whether what we see is a backlash against hard-won gains or the unravelling of partial democracies. Those who speak of a backlash borrow extensively from Susan Faludi who in 1991, identified a backlash as “a counterassault on women’s rights… an attempt to retract the handful of small and hard-won victories that the feminist movement did manage to achieve for women”. In this activity, we use this concept as springboard for understanding the position of women in a world losing freedoms through authoritarianism, inequality and technology. This activity uses recent case studies to assess the position of women and the LGBTIQ community in society today.


Working in seven small groups, you are tasked with studying a case study detailing a global example of an erosion of women’s freedoms.

  1. Having studied your case study, use the sticky notes provided to list the freedoms which are being eroded in your case.

  2. Next, using the details from the case study and the visual resources provided, prepare to present a summary and display of your case study example to the rest of the group. Your presentation should not be more than 3-5 minutes.

    Remember, the other groups are not familiar with your case study. You have 45 minutes for the group work.

  3. Once you have completed your display, return to the teaching room for a plenary where you will refer to the world map provided, placing your sticky notes at the demarcated flag and country. We will then discuss the dominant trends around the world, answering the following questions:

    • Based on your case studies what are the particular experiences of women in the world today?

    • What is noticeable about women’s freedoms today in the global context?

    The facilitator will draw together this discussion, by consolidating the dominant trends and what this means for women’s freedom today.

The Case Studies

Group 1

28 women dragging suitcases march for abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Group 2

‘She insulted my manhood’: murder underlines Turkey’s anti-LGBT backlash

Group 3

I went to jail for handing our feminist stickers in China

Group 4

Tunisia invokes Sharia law in bid to shutdown LGBT rights group

Group 5

Kenya lifts ban on Marie Stopes abortion services after warning lives are at risk

Group 6

Russian lawmakers are giving domestic abusers the green light

Group 7

They endured domestic violence and now they’re victims of austerity