As a group of researchers from Turkey/located in different countries we received seed funding from the Swedish Institute to run the international collaborative project: #GenderStruggles: Building Community Resilience via Creativity and Digital Media. The project is co-hosted by the Raul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden and Sabanci University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender) in Turkey and aims to create digital platforms for the exchange of best practices, knowhow, and expertise among feminist and LGBTI+ activists/activist-scholars in Turkey and Sweden to promote resilience in the face of anti-gender mobilizations. Humboldt University Berlin, Center for Comparative Research on Democracy adjoins the project in collaboration with SU Gender to reach out to activists/activist-researchers in Germany.

As part of the project, several digital participatory workshops will be organized throughout 2021 around themes such as resistance strategies, digitalization, sustainability in a digital world, solidarity networks, community engagement and outreach. Apart from a core group of participants of five activists/activist-researchers from Turkey and five from Sweden, workshops will involve researchers and activists working on topics relevant to the project with the aim to strengthen formal and informal networks within and between civil society and academia and enhancing transnational solidarity.  The research dimension of the project primarily aims to identify activists/activist-scholars’ strategies of resistance and resilience in the face of anti-gender mobilizations in Turkey, Sweden, and Germany. We specifically address questions related to  digital media use in gender activism, similarities and differences between experiences and strategies used against anti-gender mobilizations in different contexts, and evaluate the role of transnational networks in the context of anti-gender mobilizations.


W1, February 26, 2021: Introduction and meeting: Our stories, ourselves

W2, March 26, 2021: Narrating anti-gender mobilizations

W3, April 30, 2021: Mapping strategies of resistance

W4, May 28, 2021: Making use of digitalization (guest speakers)

W5, June 18, 2021: Sustainability in a digital world

W6, September 24, 2021: Strategies of solidarity building (guest speakers)

W7, October 29, 2021: Networking, outreach and community engagement (guest speakers)

W8, November 26, 2021: Reflection, evaluation and ideas for future research

Public event, December 17, 2021: Virtual tour

Narratives, drawings/illustrations produced during and upon gatherings will be posted on a website that will serve as a showcase of gender struggles, a vehicle of empowerment and a source of inspiration for a larger community of gender equality proponents and activists. With a transnational focus, the project will investigate the strategies of actors facing similar problems in different contexts, create a dialogic platform for the co-creation of knowledge on resistance and resilience in the face of anti-gender mobilizations.  


Expected outcomes:

Exchange of knowhow and experience, identification of best practices related to coping with and resistance against anti-gender mobilizations.

Improvement of digital resistance and resilience practices and the empowerment of the target group through their effective use.

Co-production of narratives on gender struggles in Turkey, Sweden and Germany with specific attention paid to intersectionality and the societal dimension of anti-gender sentiments thereby improving community engagement and outreach.

Enactment of self-reflection as self-empowerment using arts.

Public visibility of gender struggles as best practices becoming a source of inspiration and insight for further activism and research.

Establishment of a network for enhancing transnational solidarity.



Selin Çağatay is an affiliated researcher in two international collaborative research projects: Spaces of resistance. A study of gender and sexualities in times of transformation at Gothenburg University, Sweden, and ZARAH: Women’s labour activism in Eastern Europe and transnationally, from the age of empires to the late 20th century at Central European University, Austria. Selin has a Ph.D. in Comparative Gender Studies from CEU (2016). Her research concerns gender politics and equality struggles in Turkey from historical and transnational perspectives, with a focus on activist agendas, organizational forms, and strategies. Selin held visiting fellowships at Lund University, Gothenburg University and Vienna University, taught courses on interdisciplinary gender research, gender regimes, women's activism, NGOs, and transnational feminism at CEU, Eötvös Lorand University and Gothenburg University. Her work and teaching is informed by her experience as a feminist activist for two decades in numerous organizations and initiatives in Turkey, Hungary, Sweden and internationally.

Zeynep Gülru Göker is an assistant professor at Sabanci University and a researcher at SU Gender. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the City University of New York Graduate Center (2011). She conducts research and teaches classes on gender and politics and has experience working in two different gender studies centers in Turkey (Koç and Sabanci Universities) which conduct gender research, training and community outreach activities. She has academic and on field experience designing and facilitating deliberative democracy initiatives, has been involved in designing mechanisms for preventing sexual harassment in universities. She is the co-coordinator of the Sabanci University team in EU GEARING-roles: Gender Equality Actions in Research Institutions to Transform Gender Roles (2019-2023). She previously worked with Aslı on the project “Gender Equality Actions in Turkey’s Higher Education” conducted in collaboration with Research Worldwide Istanbul and SU Gender, and funded by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute.

Olga S. Hünler is a postdoctoral fellow of the Academy in Exile at the Freie Universität Berlin and board member of the Off-University. She is also an international guest researcher at The Margherita von Brentano Center for Gender Studies at the Freie Universität. Olga has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Middle East Technical University (2007). She held many research and teaching positions in different universities, including Universität Bremen, İzmir University of Economics, J. W. Goethe-Universität, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Jagiellonian University of Krakow, and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She is one of the lead educators of Massive Open Online Course titled “Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters?” collaborated with Scholars at Risk and the University of Oslo. Her recent project is focused on “the construction of masculinities in sports-playing young men with a Turkish background.” As a founding member of the LGBTIQ Working Group of Turkish Psychological Association, she worked closely with women and LGBTIQ organizations and activists from Turkey.

Aslı Polatdemir is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bremen Department of Intercultural Education. Her doctoral project, entitled “Empowerment Concepts of Women’s Movements in Turkey: A Foucauldian Analysis of Subjectification Through Websites” is supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation with a doctoral scholarship. She completed her M.A. in Political Science with the accompanying subject Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Heidelberg University as a DAAD scholarship holder (2013). She worked as a research assistant and coordinator in the project “Comparing women's movements in different cities in Turkey” led by the University of Bremen Department of Intercultural Education (2014-2017). She was a researcher in the project “Gender Equality Actions in Turkey’s Higher Education” conducted in collaboration with Research Worldwide Istanbul and SU Gender, funded by RWI. She designed and coordinated the feminist Summer School “Women´s and Gender Studies in Turkey: The Past, Present and Future 2019” at the University of Bremen.



İlhami Alkan Olsson is the director of RWI’s Turkey programme. İlhami has been involved in trans-disciplinary research projects on human rights, children’s rights in education and social innovation in digital contexts (financed by the Swedish Institute). He was a lecturer in international law at Istanbul University, Turkey (2009-2017) and a guest researcher at Lund University where he acted as a mentor and lecturer for two human rights programs involving digitalisation, social change and human rights. He has a Ph.D. in International Law from Kent Law School, England (2007) and has been a post-doctoral fellow on international climate change regime at SOAS, London University (2008).

Ertuğ Tombuş is a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Social Sciences, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and the academic coordinator of the Center for Comparative Research on Democracy. Before joining HU-Berlin, he taught at Columbia University, The New School for Liberal Arts, Eugene Lang College, Western Connecticut State University, State University of New York, and Izmir University of Economics. He is the managing editor of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory since 2009. He was a visiting research fellow at Northwestern University and Yale University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science and mainly working on political and democratic theory, comparative constitutionalism and theories of populism.

Tuğba Yalçınkaya is the project coordinator of the Center for Comparative Research on Democracy at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Between 2018 and 2020 she worked as the project coordinator of the programme “Blickwechsel: Contemporary Turkey Studies”. Her academic interests include the intersectionality of critical research on racism, social inequality, gender and diversity with a focus on developments in Germany. She is a board member of the association Maviblau, a cultural platform dealing with (post-) migrant issues in Germany and fostering dialogue between Turkey and Germany on civil society level.


Project Assistant:

Aslı Aygüneş received her B.A. in American Culture and Literature from Bilkent University and her M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from University of South Florida. Currently she is a doctoral candidate in the Gender Studies PhD Program at Sabanci University. During her doctoral studies, she received a fellowship from the Centre for Southeast European Studies at University of Graz. Her research focuses on volunteering, civil society, women's organizations and feminist activism in Turkey. Her recent published work is: Aygüneş A., & Golombisky, K. (2020). “Shifting Subjectivities, Cultivating Safe Spaces: Mothers’ Perspectives on Women’s Virginity in Contemporary Turkey” Journal of Research on Women and Gender, 10(1), 23-42.