International workshop: The governance of gender equality policy in EU institutions

What is the political leadership of the vdL Commission? What are the governance structures and power dynamics inside the Commission and in relation to inter-institutional politics? How does the von der Leyen Commission perform in relation to gender equality? How does the Commission unfold leadership with regard to the vision (Leitbild) of a “Union of Equality”? What has been achieved in terms of policy and politics with respect to the six priorities of the Commission? How do the multiple crises affect the gender equality performance?

Given the dynamic nature of the EU political system, studying the development and performance of EU institutions is at the heart of EU studies; with a focus on the three institutions forming the so-called legislative triangle, i.e. European Commission, Council and European Parliament. The key aim of this international workshop is to assess these dynamics through a gender lens during the von der Leyen Commission.

This is an author workshop with an aim to publish an edited volume on the topic. The workshop brings together outstanding scholars from distinct sub-disciplines – EU studies in general, gender and politics scholarship, leadership studies, and from studies on the European Commission in particular. In addition to the international scholars, also Master and PhD students from the University of Tübingen have been invited to attend the workshop from the seminars taught in summer term 2023 by Prof. Abels (“The European Commission put to the test”) and by Prof. Kantola (from 2022-2025 distinguished visiting professor at the University of Tübingen, and the course “Gendering EU institutions and policy-making”).


Thursday, 6th of June

Session 1: Introducing the von der Leyen Commission and setting the scene for equality policies

Chair: Gabriele Abels (Discussant)

  • Joyce M. Mushaben, Georgetown University Washington D.C. (Felix Gminder) “Through the Side Door”: Ursula von der Leyen’s Unconventional Path to Power

  • Henriette Müller, New York University Abu Dhabi: The Political Leadership of Ursula von der Leyen in Times of Crisis

  • Sophie Jaquot, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles & Agnès Hubert, Gender 5+, Brussels (Alba Maria Kugelmeier López): Union of Equality – a new doctrine for the EU

  • Emanuela Lombardo & Lucrecia Rubio, Complutense University Madrid: (Alba Maria Kugelmeier López): Dealing with opposition against gender equality and LGBT rights in the EU: The defence of equality as a fundamental EU value 

Session 2: Internal organizational change & inter-institutional dynamics

Chair: Emanuela Lombardo (Discussant)

  • Hussein Kassim & Sara Connolly, University of East Anglia (online) The Long March to Gender Balance in the European Commission: The von der Leyen Commission in Historical Perspective

  • John Scherpereel, James Madison University, Virginia (Nico Timpe): Von der Leyen’s Gender-balanced Team: A New Way of Operating in the College of Commissioners?

  • Gabriele Abels, University of Tübingen & Johanna Kantola, University of Helsinki: Gendering the EU institutional landscape – von der Leyen Commission’s relations to the European Parliament and the Council

Friday, 7th of June

Session 3: Gendering crises and responses in turbulent times

Chair: Johanna Kantola (Discussant)

  • John Morijn, University of Groningen (online) The von der Leyen Commission and its rule of law protection priority: “big on big and small on small”, or just small on big?

  • Maryna Shevtsova, University of Ljubljana and KU Leuven (Thomas Klöckner): The von der Leyen Commission and LGBTQI policy

  • Amandine Le Bellec, Sciences Po Paris & Jane Freedman, CNRS – Paris: Towards a more gender equal EU migration policy?

  • Stefanie Wöhl, University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna (Natalie Arndt) Gendering the Covid-19 pandemic

Session 4: Policies and Politics under a gender lens: Investigating the Commission’s six priorities

Chairs: Henriette Müller & Gabriele Abels (Discussant)

  • Annica Kronsell, University of Gothenburg (online): A European Green Deal through an equalities lens

  • Kim Barker & Olga Jurasz, The Open University Milton Keynes: Von der Leyen’s digital Europe: prioritising online equality?

  • Anna Elomäki, University of Tampere: An economy that works for the people: employment and social policy

  • Hanna Muehlenhoff, University of Amsterdam: A stronger Europe in the world?

  • Valentine Berthet, University of Helsinki: Promoting our European way of life – moral politics

  • Alvaro Oleart, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Daniel Kemmler): The Conference on the Future of Europe and the EU Commission citizens’ panels: Technocratic wine in deliberative bottles

Wrap up and outlook

  • Michael Bauer, European University Institute, Florence & Henriette Müller, New York University Abu Dhabi: Equality and Multi-Level Governance in the European Union: Conclusions from the von der Leyen Commission

Seminar on Researching the European Union: European Union’s economic governance

17 April 2023, 14.00-15.30 (EEST in Helsinki, which is 13.00-14.30 CEST in Brussels)

Location: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Room: P668

Welcome to join us for the third Seminar on Researching the European Union. The aim of the seminar series is to present and debate recent research on the EU coming from the University of Helsinki and beyond. This third session presents research from the Norface-funded SEPAROPE project and the European Research Council funded EUGenDem project on European Union’s economic governance.

ChairJohanna Kantola (University of Helsinki)


Markus Ojala (University of Helsinki): Return of the Living Dead? Encounters with “market discipline” in the eurozone

Barbara Gaweda (University of Helsinki): Looking for the ‘social’ in the European Semester: European Parliament and the ‘socialization’ of the European Semester (co-authored with Anna Elomäki, Tampere University)

Päivi Leino-Sandberg and Antti Ronkainen (University of Helsinki): House always wins! An empirical study of the ECJ case law on EMU 2010-2020

The seminar series is organised jointly by the Centre for European Studies (CES) and Erik Castrén Institute (ECI) in the University of Helsinki.

Please register for the event here.


Liliia Antoniuk received the Honorary Diploma from the Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine

Warm congratulations to Liliia for an important recognition of her voluntary work in Ukraine with empowerment of girls and young women! Read more about Liliia’s inspiring work in this blog post. 

On 31 January 2023, Liliia Antoniuk, the Doctoral Researcher from Ukraine who joined our project in August 2022, received the Honorary Diploma from the Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine for her contribution to the development of the volunteer movement, popularization of the culture of volunteering among young people, implementation of youth volunteer initiatives, professionalism and dedication to work. 

Liliia is a researcher and a project manager with 7+ years of experience working on youth and women empowerment, gender equality, non-formal education and European integration. She has been working as an executive director of the NGO ‘Women’s League’ since 2019 and a national coordinator of the ‘Young European Ambassadors’ initiative in Ukraine since 2020. 

The NGO ‘Women’s Legaue’ is a Ukrainian non-profit organization registered in 2017. It aims to support women, youth and children, protect and promote their rights and freedoms. The organization has experience in organizing lectures, workshops, webinars, seminars, and training courses on different topics related to gender equality and youth empowerment for groups of 15-100 people.  

In 2020, in her capacity as an executive director of the NGO ‘Women’s League’ and a EU4Youth Alumna, Liliia founded the ‘Girls Leadership Academy’ project to help girls 14-16 years old from the regions of Ukraine (including rural areas) learn the multifaceted nature of leadership and develop leadership skills. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it was successfully implemented in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, the project is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine. 

In 2022, Liliia launched the ‘Girls Diplomatic Academy’ project to help girls 17-21 years old to get an understanding of what is going on in the international arena and develop relevant competencies and soft skills. It is peculiar as it is developed for girls who do not study international relations within the formal education system. In 2023, the project is delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Besides, in her capacity as an executive director of the NGO ‘Women’s League’, she was/is in charge of implementing the following projects: 

  • A ‘Business of the New Millennium: From a Small Idea to a Big Solution’ project (2019) 
  • A ‘Social Entrepreneurship in Ukraine in Times of COVID-19 Crisis through Gender Lenses’ research project (2020) 
  • A series of educational and awareness-raising events to overcome stereotypes about women and girls in society: ‘STEM: Destroy Stereotypes, Not Your Life’ discussion (September 2022), ‘Women at War: Fighting for the Right to Live’ discussion (October 2022), ‘A Men’s Club, or Is There a Place for Women in Diplomacy’ lecture (December 2022), and others (2022) 
  • A ‘Sincere Conversation about Relationships and Self-Love 1.0’ project (2022) 
  • A platform for young authors interested in gender equality and women’s rights to publish their materials (2022 and 2023) 
  • A Telegram channel ‘A Space of Your Development’ (2022) 
  • A ‘Sincere Conversation about Relationships and Self-Love 2.0’ project (2023) 

Among the organization’s key partners in 2023 are the EU4Youth Alumni Network, the ‘Young European Ambassadors’ initiative (EU NEIGHBOURS east), the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Association of Youth Councils, the Styi city youth council, the Fastiv city youth council, the NGO ‘Teenergizer’, the NGO ‘Razom’, the ‘EDican’ youth initiative, etc. 

More information about the work of the NGO ‘Women’s League’ can be found on its website (available only in Ukrainian). 

Seminar on Researching the European Union: Professor Anu Bradford

blue and yellow flag on pole

Welcome to the second Seminar on Researching the European Union – online!

We are excited to welcome Professor Anu Bradford (Columbia Law School) to give a talk on Europe’s Digital Constitution in the seminar.

Anu Bradford is the author of the The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World (Oxford University Press, 2020), named one of the best books of 2020 by Foreign Affairs. Her forthcoming book is titled “Digital Empires: The Global Battle to Regulate Technology” (Oxford University Press) and her talk in our seminar will focus on EU’s regulatory power in the field.

15thMarch 2023

16.00-17.00 EET in Helsinki (which is 15.00-16.00 CET in Brussels)



Johanna Kantola and Päivi Leino-Sandberg (University of Helsinki): Welcome and introductions

Anu Bradford (Columbia Law School): “Europe’s Digital Constitution”

Jan Klabbers (University of Helsinki): Discussant’s comments

Please register through this link. Zoom link will be provided to all participants by Research Assistant Säde Kunnas closer to the event. In case of questions, please contact

International Workshop: Gendering Multi-Level Parliamentary Democracy

Parliaments are gendered spaces but what does this mean? Feminist academics have explored parliaments at multiple geographic levels as gendered workplaces and policy making spaces and how privileges and exclusions in formal and informal rules of the game affect key democratic and parliamentary functions, such as representation, oversight and deliberation.

The Scottish Parliament and European Parliament have much in common: they are both ‘new’ parliaments; parliaments where committees play a significant role in parliamentary life; both are sites of constitutional feminist activism and share normative ends of ‘new politics’ – notably in the Scottish Parliament in the form of consensus-building and ‘power-sharing’ with citizens and similar concerns in the European Parliament. At the same time, both are largely white, ableist and heteronormative institutions, are gendered workplaces, sites of violence, have uneven opportunities for advancing feminist politics and differing policy outcomes for women. Moreover, one is a supra-national institution, one a devolved parliament with concomitant challenges and opportunities.

This multi-disciplinary workshop investigates parliaments at multiple levels as gendered workplaces and gendered sites of policymaking. Topics discussed include the process of conducting a gender audit in the Scottish Parliament; parliamentary leadership in the Scottish Parliament; feminist politics and institutional racism and normative whiteness in the European Parliament.

The workshop ends with a high-level roundtable of parliamentarians who will discuss gender+ in relation to their parliamentary duties.

Participants will convene around questions such as: how might the parliaments still be gendered workplaces and policy-making spaces; what are the unique possibilities and challenges for advancing feminist politics through parliaments at multiple levels; what are the policy-making relationships with executive institutions? How do relations of formality and informality affect gender relations in the parliament? Finally, what is the broader legal and policy context regarding women and decision-making that parliaments operate within and reproduce?

The outcome of this workshop is to open research avenues and forge collaborations and dialogue between (inter)national researchers and practitioners about the potentials and challenges of parliamentary fora at multiple levels for advancing and embodying gender equality.


Opening: Dr Cherry Miller (University of Glasgow) 09.00-09.15

Panel 1: The Scottish Parliament 09.15 – 10.45

Dr Meryl Kenny (University of Edinburgh): Presentation on Gender-Sensitive Parliaments

Dr Fiona McKay (University of Strathclyde): ‘Engendering institutional equality: a gender sensitive audit of the Scottish Parliament’

Dr Jenny Morrison (University of Glasgow): ‘Assessing Feminist Institutionalism in Devolution Era Scotland’

Laura Shaw (Doctoral Researcher, University of Glasgow ): ‘Care as Leadership Capital: Gender and Political Leadership in the Scottish Parliament’

Coffee Break 10.45-11.15

Panel 2: European Parliament 11.15-12.45

Dr Valentine Berthet (University of Helsinki) ‘Feminist Politics in the European Parliament’s Political Groups’. Co-authored with Petra Ahrens (Tampere University), Johanna Kantola (University of Helsinki), Cherry Miller (University of Glasgow).

Dr Barbara Gaweda (University of Helsinki): ‘It’s like shouting to a brick wall: Normative whiteness and racism in the European Parliament’ . Co-authored with Johanna Kantola (University of Helsinki); Anna Elomäki (Tampere University), Cherry Miller (University of Glasgow), Valentine Berthet (University of Helsinki); Petra Ahrens (Tampere University).

Professor Johanna Kantola (University of Helsinki): ‘Feminist institutional responses to anti-gender politics in parliamentary contexts. Co-authored with Emanuela Lombardo (Complutense University of Madrid)

Lunch 12.45- 14.00

Panel 3: High-Level Parliamentarian Roundtable 14.00- 15.30

Elspeth Attwooll (MEP, Lib Dem, Scotland 1999-2009)

Pam Duncan-Glancy (MSP, Lab, Glasgow region, 2021-)

Kaukab Stewart (MSP, SNP, Glasgow Kelvin, 2021-)

Julie Ward (MEP, Lab, North West, 2014-2020)


This is a hybrid event. To attend in person at the University of Glasgow Advanced Research Centre register via the Eventbrite link: ‘Reserve a Spot’ – General Admission

To attend online, please register here:

University of Glasgow website