Gendered disinformation seeks to silence women's opinions and voices in democratic societies, Source: Depositphotos

Gendered disinformation reveals how false narratives can hinder progress

Gendered disinformation reveals how false narratives can hinder progress

It’s a term that we should all become more familiar with so we can recognize it when we encounter this

False information comes in many types and reaches us in different ways and if you think for a minute this variety is not coincidental. After all, purposeful disinformation seeks to discredit someone or a group of people in the eyes of the wider society. Sometimes, this can be a question of discrediting half of society – women. This is where a new term has entered the public consciousness to describe this phenomenon – gendered disinformation.

Its nefarious purposes can serve to affirm old-fashioned and misogynistic ideas about the fairer sex but even more importantly, it can be a tool to prevent women from entering political life and being in a position where they can make decisions that affirm equality between the sexes in all spheres of life.

Gendered disinformation is the spread of fake news or false information related to the promotion of data and speculative facts aimed at a certain impact and manipulative attitudes about sexuality, gender behaviour and gender identity.

This phenomenon is carried out through the manipulation of data and facts, the dissemination of photos and / or false information and the promotion of stereotypes.

Examples of gendered misinformation

This is due to the dissemination of data and facts strongly influenced by stereotypes in society – a large part of political campaigns in many countries seek to only promote the established roles of women as guardians of the family whilst portraying them as incapable of controlling and manage anything else.

One of the problems of our time, indeed, is the fairly poor representation of women in politics – especially in certain parts of the world. This is due to the continual spread of stereotypes that prevent affirming the emancipation of females in society.

In different countries the ratio is different. As an example of low political representation, we can cite Japan – where only 10% of the politicians are women. In Asia overall, women's representation in politics is only 20% and globally – 25%, according to IPU Parline.

Of course, there are positive examples – such as France (47%), and Sweden, where about 50% of the political elite are women, which testifies to emancipation standards where objective reality meets stated intentions.

That is not to say that everything is rosy in Europe though. Consider the case of Hungary, for instance, where a report by #ShePersisted, published last year, showed the way the country’s conservative government has taken steps to promote online abuse against liberal opposition figures who are women by resorting to common tropes and stereotypes.

According to the report, Viktor Orban’s government having monopolized most of the country’s media had no problems launching narratives also on social media to paint female politicians as incompetent and liars. It comes as no surprise that female representation in the national government is only 14% in Hungary.

How can gender disinformation affect society?

We should remember that fake news aims in one way or another to manipulate public opinion and thus serve certain political goals and/or interests. As a result, women become an object of attack and a symbol of something broken, incorrect and to some extent even immoral is not just a question that concerns women. It’s an issue of democracy, which at the end of the day is the final target of most disinformation campaigns. This was also formally pointed out by the US State Department in a bulletin from March 2023.

Gendered disinformation is thus not a mere buzzword, but a verified phenomenon that aims, first of all, to slow down the process of women's emancipation through incorrectly presented data and facts. If chronically successful, this could have the effect of taking away the voice of women and painting all of them with the same brush. Such attacks on pluralism harm the possibility of making informed decisions and policies that benefit all members of society.

This article is part of Read Twice – an EU-funded project, coordinated by Euro Advance Association that targets young people and aims to counter disinformation and fake news by enhancing their skills to assess critically information, identify vicious and harmful media content and distinguish between facts and opinions, thus improving their media literacy competences.

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union nor of TheMayor.EU.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU