Day 1: Introduction

About this day

Globally, there is a debate about the state of freedoms for women and the LGBTQ+ community. Two different perspectives have gained prominence in this debate. On the one hand are those who argue that the world is witnessing a global backlash against women’s freedoms and the freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community. Those who hold this view see the resurgence of patriarchal ideology, emphasis on the ‘natural order of the world’, family values, legislative steps to reverse the right to abortion, gendered violence and escalating insecurity inaugurated by economic policies that promoted the withdrawal of the state from providing social services, as indicative of this backlash. The global authoritarian turn in places like Brazil and the United States, and the weaponisation of technology to clamp down on activists and their movements, is seen as part of this backlash.

On the other hand, there are activists who caution against the reference to the ‘backlash’ in general terms, especially since some of the freedoms that are being eroded in places like the United States, are still to be realised elsewhere. For this view, the status of women and the LGBTQ+ community points to the reality of what it means to be living, struggling and resisting in what has been called illiberal or partial democracies.

While these may appear like sharp differences, many feminists agree that there is a need to resist erosions to freedom, fight against the deliberate shrinking of spaces for freedom and to strengthen the efforts of those who are struggling for a breakthrough under various authoritarian regimes.

Objectives for this day

At the end of the day, participants will have an understanding of the state of women and LGBTQ+ freedoms on a global scale and how authoritarianism and inequality are part of the story of the precarious nature of freedoms globally.

Day activity sessions

This day comprises the following activities: