Over the last decades constitutionalism in Central and Eastern Europe has become a battlefield around issues such as same sex marriage, abortion, and, more recently, the very concept of sex/gender itself, all of which can be seen as deeply entangled with the notion of sexual citizenship. The article maps constitutional struggles in the region and tries to identify the actors and factors (cultural, legal and political), behind the attempt to locate the struggle around the definition of sexual citizenship and, relatedly, the entrenchment of gender roles, in constitutional politics. Our hypothesis is that reactionary political forces seek the Constitution as a site in which to operationalize a gender conservative (?) national identity project which can gather broad popular consensus and thus present itself as transcending political divides. This nationalistic project aims to affirm itself both against a communist past and a Europe-led though which exercise a form of cultural hegemony.
How does the constitutional recognition of gender equality evolve, and which factors contribute to the inclusion these provisions in constitutions? While issues of gender equality are part of an ever-growing research agenda, the constitutional implementation of concrete legal provisions presents an enduring puzzle. In particular, the conditions that lead to the inclusion of these rights and the diversification of legal provisions organizing them are a frequent yet rarely studied phenomenon. To test the theoretical expectations, this article draws on a comprehensive dataset of constitutional design processes analyzing the occurrence of gender equality provisions since its first appearance on the constitutional stage in 1920. The results show that both international as well as domestic factors influence the inclusion of these rights, yet their importance varies significantly depending on the historical and regional context of the constitution making process.
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.