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Teamwork2: “Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”

Combating Sexual Harassment: Workshops and Initiatives in Croatia and Italy

Education Sessions at Libertas International University and the Chamber of Commerce of Florence

May 21, 2024

An important education session took place at Libertas International University in Zagreb, Croatia, targeting students majoring in Sports Management and Sports Organizations. The focus was on combating sexual harassment within the sports environment. Participants delved into definitions, legal frameworks, and recognizing signs of sexual harassment. The session also presented research findings and statistical indicators related to this issue. Notably, there has been an increase in complaints over the past five years, spanning all levels of severity (misdemeanor, discrimination, and criminal). The #nisamtražila initiative, active since January 2021, has driven awareness and reporting within educational institutions. Radojka Kraljević led the workshop, providing effective approaches for addressing sexual harassment. A total of 24 participants attended.

May 29, 2024: Chamber of Commerce Workshop in Florence

The Chamber of Commerce of Florence organized a workshop for local and regional enterprises. The event aimed to sensitize companies about prevention and response to sexual harassment (SH) in the workplace. Attendees were keen to learn about the Team Work 2 project and the role of the helpdesk. The Italian Chamber of Commerce sought insights from participants, especially regarding their experiences with Teamwork II. Danijela Stanojević, the communication manager, highlighted a recent case in the Croatian film scene. Renowned film and theater director Dalibor Matanić had sexually harassed young actresses for over a decade. Despite the actresses not formally reporting the case, the helpdesk received three written reports and 43 phone calls related to the incident. As a result, a 30-second advertisement promoting the helpdesk will air on Croatian Radio Television, with other countries following suit.

Nebojša Paunović’s Workshop for the Society of Croatian Movie Directors

On the same day, Nebojša Paunović, from the Ombudsperson for gender equality, conducted an education session for members of the Society of Croatian Movie Directors (Društvo filmskih redatelja). Psychologist Bruna Nedoklan discussed violence and violent communication, while legal advisor Nebojša Paunović explained legal mechanisms. The gathering centered around the high-profile case of director Dalibor Matanić’s sexual harassment of young actresses. Notable attendees included Ksenija Marinković (president of the Croatian Society of Film Workers), Chris Marcich (director of the Croatian Audiovisual Center), and Maja Vukić (deputy director of HAVCA). The need for further workshops was expressed, emphasizing the importance of addressing sexual harassment in the industry. A total of 12 participants engaged in this crucial dialogue.

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Teamwork2: “Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”

The second in a series of planned workshops was held on April 30 2024

As part of the international project Teamwork2: “Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”, the second in a series of planned workshops was held on April 30, 2024, at the Croatian Employers’ Association. The workshop participants, commissioners for protecting workers’ dignity, came from various companies and institutions, including the Faculty of Law, Zagreb Holding, Croatian Employers’ Association, Croatian Chamber of Economy, Croatian Radio Television, and Kumrovec Elementary School. The workshop was led by Nebojša Paunović, legal advisor to the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality, and Radojka Kraljević, a psychologist and associate professor at Libertas University.

The workshop aimed to develop a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and violence, and to adopt an internal legal architecture for violence prevention, victim protection, perpetrator punishment, and reintegration into the collective.

Paunović emphasized the importance of continuous education on gender equality for all employees, a concrete policy of gender and sexual equality, zero tolerance for non-consensual sexual relations, and the adoption of an internal legal architecture that enables effective victim protection and fair prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.

During the workshop, participants discussed adapting legal and internal regulations to the institution, organizing general education on gender equality, professional education, and problems with punishment due to the difficulty of regulating the structure of sexual discrimination punishment.

Radojka Kraljević led the workshop segment on establishing contact between the commissioner and the victim of workplace harassment. In the practical part of the workshop, a communication strategy and establishing contact with the victim were practiced. Participants learned how to ensure the necessary conditions for conversation, understand the emotional and physical state of the victim, familiarize themselves with the protocol of action and legal regulation. It was particularly emphasized that it is most important to ensure that the victim feels safe and a supportive atmosphere so that the report can be effectively carried out.

Special attention was paid to reporting and presenting cases of sexual harassment in the media. Recommendations were made on how to report on workplace sexual harassment when it comes to the media, and in the practical part, good and bad practices in reporting were analyzed on prepared examples.

Each company must adopt an internal legal framework according to which the commissioner operates. Despite possible formal-legal omissions, the victim must be protected. The court may refer to procedural errors, but the procedure does not necessarily have to be completed within eight days, but must be initiated within eight days.

According to the regulations of the Faculty of Law in Zagreb, the procedure for extraordinary dismissal of the perpetrator, in the case of sexual harassment, must be carried out within eight days. Every employer is obliged to define their regulations and act according to them, and make them available.

The commissioner’s procedure sends a message about the employer’s equality and worker protection. Suppose it is a criminal offense, such as sexual harassment under Article 156 of the Criminal Code. In that case, a report must be submitted to the competent state attorney’s office, regardless of the victim’s position. Without the victim’s admission, the legal procedure cannot be carried out, and reporting may not be inclined if the victim does not want it. However, we must all report a criminal offense and report that we have information.

The final discussion and evaluation were conducted by Višnja Ljubičić, Ombudswoman for Gender Equality, and Lovorka Marinović, project manager in Croatia, president of the Center for New Initiatives. Lovorka Marinović thanked everyone for participating and expressed hope that this initiative will help everyone in their further work.

Višnja Ljubičić, Ombudswoman for Gender Equality, emphasized that the Ombudswoman’s institution is available to all institutions for the development of legal architecture and internal acts for employers. She pointed out that victims of sexual discrimination often leave the labor market for a long time.

Last year, nine criminal charges were filed, always with the consent of the victim. Sexual harassment is a taboo topic that is difficult to discuss. The role of the Ombudswoman includes protecting the identity and anonymity of the report. It is possible to act on an anonymous report, but the information must be well presented. Regardless of whether the reports are anonymous or with a name and surname, the Ombudswoman will conduct the procedure. However, victims need to report such incidents so that perpetrators can be properly prosecuted.

It was concluded that efforts need to be made to educate workers, employers, and students, and to raise awareness in society through education. Examples of good practice and equal rules for everyone are key to changing society. Through such initiatives, we can hope that society will change for the better.

The project is being implemented in seven countries: Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, and is funded by the European Union as part of the CERV program. In Croatia, the project is being implemented by the Center for New Initiatives in cooperation with the Office of the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality.

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International Women's Day 2024

International Women's Day 2024

International Women’s Day was marked through various events throughout the day. In the morning, we participated in demonstrations at Markov Square, followed by the award ceremony for Woman of the Year, honoring Sanja Sarnavka, a prominent feminist. Later, we joined the Night March. However, the most significant part of our day was speaking about sexual harassment during the Women’s Film Festival at the Trešnjevka Cultural Center, located in the oldest working-class neighborhood, at 7:00 PM. – ZAGREB – Park Stara Trešnjevka 1.

We joined the fight against workplace sexual harassment! The Women’s Film Festival and One Billion Rising invited us to an interesting and important event on International Women’s DayMarch 8, 2024, at 7:00 PM. The event opened our eyes and inspired us to take action.

First, we watched the classic Croatian film “From 3 to 22” from 1967, directed by Krešo Golik (Zagreb Film), which portrayed the position of women in society.

This segment of the WFF program was part of a European project conducted in collaboration with the Gender Equality Ombudsman and the Center for New Initiatives, addressing the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. The project had already conducted workshops with employees from HRTADUHUP, and other organizations. They’d also launched a Help Desk at the Gender Equality Ombudsman to report cases and provide legal assistance. Future steps included a media campaign in partnership with the Women’s Film Festival and the creation of a new handbook applicable to all EU countries involved in the project. Additionally, they planned to establish collaboration agreements with journalists’ unions.

After the film, we participated in a panel discussion on “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and the Importance of Unions”, featuring distinguished experts:

  • Višnja Ljubičić, Gender Equality Ombudsman
  • Radojka Kraljević, Psychologist
  • Lovorka Marinović, Center for New Initiatives in the Workplace
  • Maja Sever, President of the Journalists’ Union and President of the European Federation of Journalists (as the moderator)
  • Danijela Stanojević, Artistic Director and Producer of WFF/OBR(opening and closing remarks)
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PES Election Congress 2024

Party of European Socialists (PES) Election Congress on March 2, 2024

 The recent congress held on March 2nd, 2024, underscored a resolute commitment to the Party of European Socialists (PES) Election Congress. As a prominent political party within the European Union (EU), PES champions social democratic values and policies.

Key Points:

  1. PES’s Vision: The PES aims to foster a fair, inclusive, and progressive Europe. With a focus on social justice, equality, and solidarity, the party advocates for policies that benefit all citizens.
  2. Enlargement Process: Amid discussions, the congress addressed the EU’s enlargement process. As the EU considers potential new member states, PES emphasizes the importance of maintaining democratic principles and shared values.
  3. Stakeholder Engagement: Policymakers, experts, and stakeholders actively participated in exploring strategies and policies related to critical issues. Their commitment to shaping a better future for Europe was evident throughout the congress.

PES Election Congress serves as a pivotal platform for advancing social democratic ideals and shaping the EU’s trajectory. The commitment demonstrated during this event underscores the party’s dedication to a stronger, more cohesive Europe and CEE Gender Network was there.

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MOMENTUM FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE WESTERN BALKANS

Joint political event organised by the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian Democratic Party in cooperation with the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and the CEE Network for Gender Issues

On March 1st, 2024, Rome hosted a significant event that brought together political leaders, experts, and activists to discuss critical issues related to gender equality and democracy in the Western Balkans. The conference aimed to foster dialogue, share insights, and explore pathways toward a more inclusive and equitable future.

The event commenced on Friday, March 1st, serving as a prelude to the main congress scheduled for the following day. Participants gathered at the conference venue, eager to engage in meaningful discussions. Here are some highlights:

  1. Enzo Maraio(National Secretary, PSI): Enzo Maraio set the tone for the conference by emphasizing the urgency of addressing gender disparities in the Western Balkans. As a prominent political figure, his insights resonated with the audience.
  2. Daša Šašić Šilović(Chair, CEE Network for Gender Issues; Board Member, European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity): Daša’s expertise in gender advocacy and her commitment to democratic values made her a compelling speaker. Her call for collective action reverberated throughout the room.

Panel Discussion: “Are the Balkans and the Neighborhood Boiling?”

The afternoon session featured a lively political debate and Q&A session. Distinguished panelists shared their perspectives on regional tensions, social challenges, and the role of gender equality in fostering stability. Notable participants included:

  • Radmila Šekerinska (PES Vice President; former Deputy President, SDUM; Minister of Defense, North Macedonia): Radmila’s experience as a leader and advocate underscored the interconnectedness of security and gender rights.
  • Borko Stefanović (Deputy President, Party of Freedom and Justice; Vice President, Serbian Parliament): Borko’s insights shed light on the delicate balance between political freedom and social justice.
  • Zita Gurmai (President, PES Women; MP, Hungary): Zita’s passionate advocacy for women’s rights resonated with the audience, emphasizing the need for cross-border collaboration.
  • Saša Magazinović (Member, National House of Representatives, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Representative in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly): Saša’s presence highlighted the importance of parliamentary engagement in advancing gender equality.

Panel Discussion: “Is Commitment to EU Enlargement Real?”

  1. Matilda Ernkrans (Deputy Chair, Committee on EU Affairs in the Swedish Parliament; former Minister of Development Aid, Sweden): Matilda’s pragmatic approach emphasized the need for tangible actions to align with EU standards.
  2. Bojan Marichikj (First Deputy Prime Minister, Government of North Macedonia; International Secretary, SDUM): Bojan’s insights highlighted the delicate balance between national sovereignty and European integration.
  3. Adnan Dibrani (MP, Sweden): Adnan’s perspective underscored the challenges faced by aspiring EU members and the importance of political will.
  4. Piero Fassino (Partito Democratico; MP): Piero’s presence (though tentative) added depth to the discussion, emphasizing the role of political parties in the enlargement process.

Moderators

  • Daša Šašić Šilović (Chair, CEE Network for Gender Issues; Board Member, European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity): Daša skillfully guided both panels, ensuring a balanced and informative exchange of ideas.
  • Pia Locatelli (International Secretary, PSI; Honorary President, SIW; Board Member, CEE Network for Gender Issues): Pia’s leadership underscored the importance of international cooperation in addressing gender-related challenges.
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Combating Workplace Sexual Harassment: The “Teamwork 2” Project - promo film

Combating Workplace Sexual Harassment: The “Teamwork 2” Project

On February 6, 2024, an international conference was held at the European House of Europe in Zagreb, addressing the critical issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. This pervasive problem undermines the dignity and safety of workers, especially women. Unfortunately, many victims hesitate to report incidents due to fears of job loss, stigmatization, and lack of trust in institutions.

During the conference, representatives from organizations across Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Croatia came together. They resolved to continue media campaigns and awareness-raising efforts throughout the year. Additionally, they plan to create a comprehensive handbook explaining reporting systems and mechanisms for addressing workplace sexual harassment.
Click on te photo to see video.

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Tuesday 6 February 2024 at House of Europe, Augusta Cesarca 4, Zagreb, Croatia

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EU Project on Combating Sexual Violence in the Workplace:
2nd Transnational Project Meeting

On February 6, 2024, an international conference on combating sexual harassment in the workplace was held at the European House of Europe in Zagreb. The conference addressed the issue of sexual harassment, which is a common and serious occurrence that undermines the dignity and safety of workers, particularly women. Many victims hesitate to report such incidents due to fear of job loss, stigmatization, and lack of trust in institutions. Society often downplays or justifies violence, sending discouraging messages to victims.

During the meeting, which took place in Zagreb, representatives from organizations implementing the project in Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Croatia decided to continue media campaigns and awareness-raising efforts until the end of the year. Additionally, they plan to create a handbook that explains the reporting systems and mechanisms for addressing workplace sexual harassment.

The “Teamwork 2” project, funded by the European Union through the Rights, Equality, and Citizenship program, focuses on preventing and addressing cases of sexual harassment in the workplace. The project aims to educate and empower victims, employers, trade unions, and civil society organizations to recognize, report, and address violence. It also seeks to improve mechanisms for victim protection and perpetrator accountability.

Thirteen civil society organizations from seven European countries—Croatia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, and Cyprus—participate in the project alongside the Gender Equality Ombudswoman. Together, they aim to establish a functional victim protection system through the “Teamwork 2” initiative.

Nikos Moraitis, from the Industrial and Business Training Institute in Greece, succinctly described the project as follows: raising awareness in companies about the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, empowering workers to come forward and report incidents of sexual harassment, and assisting companies in improving their mechanisms to combat sexual harassment through workshops and education.

Lovorka Marinović, from the Center for New Initiatives, highlighted a grim reality based on statistical data from the UNDP’s Gender Social Norms Index. Over the past decade, there has been no improvement in attitudes toward women. The research, conducted across 80 countries representing 80% of the world’s population, revealed the following:

  • 49% of respondents believe that men make better politicians than women.
  • Only 27% think that gender equality is crucial for democracy.
  • 46% believe that men have greater rights in the workplace.
  • 25% consider it acceptable for a man to physically harm his partner.

These findings did not surprise Daša Šilović from the Central and East European Network for Gender Issues. She emphasized that this project aims to confront a culture of violence, particularly in our region. The roots of this violence lie in wars, poverty, fear, and hopelessness, which then manifest across various levels. The issue of power dynamics plays a crucial role—those who are stronger and dominant perpetuate violence. Real change requires policy shifts at decision-making levels; merely taking to the streets is insufficient. The problem persists universally, even when laws exist but are not effectively enforced due to political indifference.

Nebojša Paunović, a legal advisor at the Office of the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality, emphasized that they are partners in the project and that the Ombudswoman offers assistance and support to victims of sexual harassment. He highlighted that through education and continuous training, sensitivity to such offenses is developed, and victims are empowered with the help of their surroundings. By reporting incidents, victims understand the purpose of their complaint. He encouraged both women and men to reach out to the Ombudswoman if they experience sexual harassment in the workplace and their employer fails to protect them. He emphasized that the Office will penalize employers who do not provide mechanisms to safeguard workers’ dignity.

As part of Project Teamwork 2, several companies and public institutions in Croatia will undergo training to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Each of us can take action starting tomorrow by not turning a blind eye to violence but instead assisting victims and standing up against perpetrators.

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Rethinking, retooling and re-energising gender equality post covid-19

Is gender mainstreaming a reality in social democratic parties in the Western Balkans? A case study of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia

“Rethinking, retooling and re-energising gender equality post covid-19” on the current situation of the implementation of gender mainstreaming in social democratic parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, North Macedonia and Serbia. Is gender mainstreaming a reality in this area? Based on the results obtained, the authors provide a set of policy recommendations for social democratic parties. Acknowledging that gender equality is an important challenge for the future, the objective is to raise awareness and, in turn, guarantee the implementation of gender mainstreaming through the work of women’s forums and social democratic parties themselves.

Bridging The Gender Pay Gap in the Western Balkans?

A country case study of Croatia, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia

The policy study on the gender pay gap in the Western Balkans reveals that while legal frameworks exist, practical implementation remains lacking. COVID-19 exacerbated gender inequalities, and the reduction in the pay gap is a dynamic process. Recommendations include better monitoring and addressing societal context.

TeamWork2 – Combat sexual harassment in the workplace

Athens, Greece March 2023

 

CNI/CEE Network for Gender Issues, within a consortium of 13 European NGOs from Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Spain and Croatia, launched a joint project on sexual harassment supported by the European Union today in Athens.

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"Korčula School" think tank

The "Korčula School" has become a recognized regional South Eastern European think tank that focuses on progressive and social democratic policies to promote gender equality.

Initiated in 2012 by the CEE Network for Gender Issues the "Korčula School" is designed to be a unique political, ideological, free thinking space for a substantive and forward-looking exchange of views on critical ideological and political issues on transforming politics to promote gender equality.  

The "Korčula School" brings together women and men political leaders from center left and social democratic parties, experts, political activists, and feminists, especially from South Eastern Europe to discuss gender equality issues.