ZiF Research Group

Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights

October 2020 – July 2021

Convenors: Alexandra Scheele (Bielefeld, GER), Julia Roth (Bielefeld, GER), Heidemarie Winkel (Bielefeld, GER)


Whose Rights, Which Rights?

Debates about abortion rights and the marriage for all or the hostility towards feminists and gender studies are making it undeniable - women's and gender rights have increasingly been called into question and attacked. The podcast 'Whose Rights, Which Rights?' takes up these conflicts over gender, equality and the formulation and implementation of legal claims. In each episode we take a closer look at one aspect of the topic, such as fundamentalist religion, the 'care crisis' or growing right-wing populism. The podcast is based on a cooperation between the research group Hertz 87.9 campus radio. Based on the current state of the debate, we will explore the respective research area of the fellows in each episode and ask more precisely how and why women?s and gender rights are being attacked. As this is an international research group, all interviews are conducted in English.

Music: Broke für Free - Melt (CC BY 3.0), Mello C - Deporaju (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Episode 1: Introducing the Research Group (Heidemarie Winkel, Alexandra Scheele, Julia Roth)

In the first episode we introduce the interdisciplinary research group of the ZiF and its convenors. We discuss the three main research topics: gender division of labor and care work, authoritarian forms of religion and their instrumentalization as well as the gendering of citizenship and the questioning of sexual rights.

Guests: Alexandra Scheele, Heidemarie Winkel, Julia Roth

Episode 2: Feminist Critiques of Religion (Ina Kerner)

Feminist and scientific critiques of religion are important for different reasons. In this episode, we clarify why with Prof. Dr. Ina Kerner. Katharina Ußling also discusses with Ina Kerner the appropriation of criticism of religion by right-wing groups, especially the AfD, and the mixing of feminism with anti-Muslim racism.

Guests: Ina Kerner

Episode 3: Religious and Secular Women's Movements (Fatima Sadiqi, Shirin Zubair)

Women and gender movements exist all over the world, and while they often fight for the same goals, there is no one feminist movement or the one feminism. In this episode we talk about the relationship between religious and secular women´s movements in Pakistan and the countries of North Africa. Katharina Ußling talks to Prof. Fatima Sadiqi and Prof. Shirin Zubair about the influence of Western values, modernity, the Arab Spring and the instrumentalization of religion by extremist groups.

Guests: Fatima Sadiqi, Shirin Zubair

Episode 4: How Are Gender and Reproductive Rights Questioned Today? (Andrea Pető)

Only 55% of all women worldwide are physically self-determined. Almost half of all women cannot decide whether to have sex, have children or seek medical care. And we’re not even talking about LGBTQIA rights yet. Is a dystopian world à la Margaret Atwood’s “The handmaid’s tale” more conceivable than we would like to imagine? What influence do right-wing conservative and right-wing populist governments, as in Hungary or Poland, have on sexual and reproductive rights throughout Europe? Katharina Ußling talks about this with Prof. Andrea Pető, lecturer at the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University, which study programm is currently no longer allowed to be accredited in Hungary.

Guests: Andrea Pető

Episode 5: Right-wing Populism and the Anti-gender Movement (Birgit Sauer, Julia Roth)

Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Victor Orban in Hungary or Sebastian Kurz in Austria – countries all over the world are still or again governed by right-wing conservative to right-wing populist politicians. But right-wing populist views and gender-hostile ideologies can also be found in our entire environment, among friends, at work, or in the family. How does the anti-gender discourse influence our daily lives, social debate and political discourse? What impact does it have on women’s and LGBTIQ rights? In this episode, Katharina Ußling talks about this with Prof. Birgit Sauer, Professor of political science at the University of Vienna and Prof. Julia Roth, Professor of American Studies at Bielefeld University.

Guests: Birgit Sauer, Julia Roth

Episode 6: Women's Rights in Nigeria (Onyinye Durueke)

What happens when powerful people, companies and politicians exploit a country because it is rich in oil and gas? What does the fight for women’s rights look like when education is a scarce resource? This episode is about a very specific field study in Nigeria. Katharina Ußling talks about contestations when it comes to natural resource governance in the Niger Delta communities in Nigeria with Dr. Onyinye Durueke, a Peace, Conflict and Security Studies Scholar with special focus on Gender. Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer with the Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies, at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

Guests: Onyinye Durueke

Episode 7: Post-colonial Perspectives on Women's and Gender Rights (Ligia Fabris)

With his work Orientalism in 1978, some would say, Edward Said laid the foundation for today's post-colonialism and provided many linking points for academic and social debates. How important postcolonial perspectives are, we see not only in academic research, but also when the news reports that statues of colonial rulers and slave traders are sunk in harbor basins. In this episode, we talk about post-colonial perspectives on women´s and gender rights, especially when it comes to women in politics, gender-based political violence and the rights of trans people within the intersection of law, gender studies and political theory. Katharina Ußling talks with Ligia Fabris, Assistant Professor at Rio de Janeiros Law School of Getulio Vargas Foundation and PhD candidate at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (Germany), where she carries out comparative research on transgender rights in Brazil and Germany.

Guests: Ligia Fabris

Episode 8: Covid-19 State Responses as Contestation Within Global Capitalism and the Multi-layered Meaning of Social Reproduction (Martina Sproll, Ania Plomien)

One topic is all over the News since the beginning of 2020: the Covid-19 crisis. The global approach to societal, economic and social consequences varies widely. But one thing is clear: those who are already disadvantaged will be even more so: at home, more women are once again taking care of children and the household, people in underpaid jobs and especially in nursing - gender inequality seems more likely to be exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. Katharina Ußling talks about this in this episode with Prof. Martina Sproll and Associate Professor Ania Plomien.

Guests: Martina Sproll, Ania Plomien

Episode 9: Radical Theory of Democracy: A Perspective to Understand the Contestations of Gender Rights (Karsten Schubert & Lívia de Souza)

In other podcast episodes, we have talked about how democratic principles are questioned and the representation and participation of individual groups are restricted. This is the case of Hungary, for example, where the government questions equality goals, puts massive pressure on the LGBTIQ community and makes them invisible. It is also problematic when democratic participation is negated with the help of religion. Against this background, it is time to address democracy fundamentally - not only as a form of government but as an idea of emancipation and self-determination within a community. In this episode, Katharina Ussling talks with Dr. Karsten Schubert and Lívia de Souza Lima, PhD student at the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies at Bielefeld University, about the contribution of radical democratic theory to understanding the contestations of women's and gender rights.

Guests: Dr. Karsten Schubert, Lívia de Souza Lima

Episode 10: Global Contestations of Gender Rights - a conclusion (Alexandra Scheele & Julia Roth)

To conclude our podcast series, Katharina Ussling talks again with two of the research group leaders – PD Dr. Alexandra Scheele and Prof. Dr. Julia Roth - about the results of the research group "Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights". They discuss the outcomes of the joint work, the importance of interdisciplinarity and internationality, and the perspectives for further work. They also talk about the current publication, the anthology Global Contestations of Gender Rights (Link), and other events (Link).