For decades Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has been a terrain for transformations and struggles marked by transnational processes which, in turn, are constantly reshaping the living and working conditions of everyone, but especially of women, LGBTQIA+ people and migrants. The transition to capitalism left public systems such as healthcare, education, affordable housing and social welfare underfunded, thus shifting a huge amount of the care and reproductive labour on the shoulders of women. Global conservative waves and the hardening of the patriarchal regime led to a huge increase in violence, femicides and attacks on basic reproductive rights and freedoms such as the draconian bans on abortions in Poland, the anti-LGBTQIA+ legislations in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, the storm against the Istanbul convention in the whole region. The racist hierarchies and exploitative divisions within the EU created conditions in which workers, often women, from CEE are forced to migrate towards other parts of Europe and work under miserable conditions mostly in the care, agricultural and the service sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic visibilized and exacerbated to the extreme these conditions and created even more contradictions by calling the labour performed mostly by women and migrants “essential” for the maintenance of society, yet refusing to acknowledge the right of these “essential workers” to decent lives and working conditions. 

Now the war in Ukraine is accelerating even more the patriarchal, capitalist and racist backlash against women, LGBTQI+ people, workers and migrants. In Ukraine, rape is being employed as a weapon, while the war is enforcing gendered and racist hierarchies and will be used by institutions as an opportunity for a neoliberal post-war reconstruction. Outside of Ukraine, refugees from the war, mostly women, are subject to patriarchal attacks and are being forced to accept unbearable working conditions to survive. At the same time, military expenses, both in Ukraine and in other EU countries, are paid by cutting social welfare funding, which again increases the labour burden on women, while inflation and higher prices for food, gas and rents fundamentally challenge our abilities to make ends meet.

None of the described developments are unique to CEE and the war – directly or indirectly – is affecting everyone, yet starting our analysis from this region and going beyond its borders help us better navigate this complex situation. Thus, amidst these social and political turmoils that the war and other crises bring, as feminists it is urgent to face and discuss the following:

How are our conditions of living and struggling on the terrain of social reproduction affected by the intersections of these crises?

If capitalist, patriarchal and racist regimes create divisions across societies and between regions, how can we go beyond these national and regional divisions and build new capacities for transnational feminist struggles?

How to organize our political response on the terrain of social reproduction within the new war context and against the ongoing other crises?

This Assembly organized by E.A.S.T. will be a moment to discuss all these questions with the further aim of strengthening our transnational connections and forging tools for political communication, struggle and strike on the terrain of social reproduction across the borders.