The Possibilities and Pitfalls of NGO Feminism: Insights from Postsocialist Eastern Europe
This article identifies the problems and opportunities facing feminist nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Drawing on the cases of feminist organizing in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and eastern Germany, I discuss the strategic advantages and disadvantages of NGO feminism, or feminism organized largely around service provisioning for women and the receipt of funds from state agencies and private foundations. I synthesize and move beyond existing scholarly and activist critiques of NGO feminism to identify and evaluate four potentially troubling aspects of this model of organizing, namely, formalization as a path to feminist neutralization, the inhibition of feminist countercultures, the loss of movement autonomy to develop agendas and make claims, and the lack of confrontation with existing structures of power. The article demonstrates the consequences of this type of movement development.