Feminists fight the right, but it's the right who welcomes women

Despite the strength of feminist movements, the European left seems to have little confidence in women, who are more likely to find a political career within right-wing organizations.

Ingrid Colanicchia
Ingrid Colanicchia MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Feminists fight the right, but it's the right who welcomes women - NewsMavens
Giorgia Meloni, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The current fight for women's rights is hailed by many as the third feminist wave, the continuation of previous movements in the 1900s and 1960s. But, despite the feminist movement's strength and capacity for broad collaboration -- and despite the fact that feminism has always thrived alongside revolutionary, reformist and democratic trends -- in Europe the left seems to have little confidence in women -- less confidence than the right, who is more likely to welcome women in its ranks.

According to research by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), these women are often more radical leaders than their male counterparts, and they attract the female electorate with family support (welfare, economic bonuses) and migration policies, depicting immigration as a threat to personal security.

In Italy, the most striking example is Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, which claims to defend women from Islamization and advocates for the traditional family. But the trend is visible across all of Europe.

Details from the story:

  • In Europe, female presence in the top ranks of political parties varies between countries, but the majority of those who occupy important institutional or party positions are on the right, ranging from conservatives to the extreme right.
  • Four of the most powerful women in Europe belong to the right: German Chancellor Angela Merkel; British PM Theresa May; Norwegian president and leader of the conservative party Høyre Erna Solberg -- who not only proposed to restrict abortion law as requested by the small Norwegian Christian Democratic party with which the government forms an absolute majority, but also pushes anti-immigration policies along with another iron woman, Finance Minister Siv Jensen, leader of the Fremskrittspartiet, associated with an extreme-right homophobic movement, and Beata Szydło, who led the Polish ultra-Catholic right-wing government and who, after being replaced by finance minister Mateusz Morawiecki, is still in the government as deputy prime minister, overseeing social issues.
  • While refusing to call herself a feminist, Marine Le Pen, leader of the Rassemblement National, formerly Front National, presents herself as a champion of women's rights, claiming that Islam and immigration are the greatest dangers for those who want to be able to wear shorts or miniskirts.
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