Gendered Pushback or a Return to Politics: The Complex Relationship between Populism, Law and Gender

Legal measures adopted by populists in power often have a clear gendered dimension, from attempts to restrict access to abortion to constitutional amendments to entrench a heteronormative notion of the family and pronatalist incentives. Populist agendas are frequently underpinned by nativist and traditionalist agendas playing out in gendered ways: the reproduction of the nation is the primary duty of its dutiful mothers, foreign/deviant elements are to be rejected, and the traditional family is to be reinstated as the basis of society. This paper argues that these developments expose the growing inadequacy of the populist umbrella concept. Instead of analysing the pushback against gender equality solely as an anomaly of states lost to the populist ethos, the paper argues we should acknowledge a spectrum of gendered measures and the complex reasons why many of them have received little resistance and may even have been embraced as welcome social welfare policies.