EU Project on Combating Sexual Violence in the Workplace: Raising Awareness and Empowering Change


Women and Media web portal of the Agency for Electronic Media.

The Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP) hosted an education on combating sexual harassment and sexual violence in the workplace on December 20 and 21, 2023, as part of the European project “TEAMWORK#2: combating sexual harassment in the WORKplace vol_2”. The project, which is supported by the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality and implemented by the Center for New Initiatives and the CI Europe Network for Gender Equality, aims to improve the prevention and protection of victims of gender-based violence in the workplace. The project is funded under the European Commission’s Programme for Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values and involves several countries.

The main objective of the project is to build the capacity of employers and other organizations to create internal legal frameworks, encourage coalitions and cooperation among different organizations, and improve the provision of specialized services and referral mechanisms for survivors of gender-based violence in the workplace.

The aim of the education is to train commissioners for the protection of the dignity of workers and other employees in public and private institutions. The education was attended by representatives of various organizations, institutions and employers, including the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Croatian Radio Television (HRT), the City of Zagreb, the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb (ADU), some faculties of the University of Zagreb, and some local, regional and regional self-government and schools. The education and project are open to all interested parties who want to improve their legal framework and procedures for dealing with sexual violence.

The Center for New Initiatives (CNI) from Zagreb is collaborating with a number of organizations to tackle the problem of sexual harassment as part of the EU project Teamwork2. The partners include Deisis from Belgium, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yambol from Bulgaria, Surt from Spain, CARDET from Cyprus, the Italian branch of Oxfam, KMOP from Greece, the Institute for Entrepreneurship Education and Training (IVEPE - SEV, who are also the project leaders) from Greece, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the city of Paphos in Greece, Adecco Training from Italy, CGIL TOSCANA, “DAF - united against violence” from Bulgaria and the Union “Education” (SEP) from Bulgaria. At the invitation of the Zagreb CNI, the project was also joined by the Office of the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality.

After the initial phase of the project (Teamwork), during which research was conducted in partner countries, Croatian partners joined the second phase. The first phase indicated the need to raise awareness of employers and employees about the problem of sexual harassment and to strengthen their capacities for prevention and resolution of such cases. Also, the goal is to involve as many sectors as possible at the local, regional and national levels in solving this problem. It is planned to achieve this through training of trainers and multipliers who will be able to recognize and solve the problem of harassment within their work environments. This also includes intersectoral cooperation and the involvement of a larger number of employers and institutions. Also, the project aims to improve the protection of victims and promote the results of research. The project is implemented from April 2023 to January 2025.

Workers Rights portal (Radnička prava) Radnička prava is a web portal that provides an overview of news, articles, and video materials related to workers’ rights and labor struggles. It was established in 2012 with the aim of informing and educating the public about current issues and challenges faced by workers in Croatia and around the world. Additionally, it advocates for union organizing and solidarity among workers across different sectors and countries. Radnička prava is part of the Network for Workers’ Rights, which brings together various organizations and initiatives dedicated to labor-related issues.

If we blindly believed statistics, we might conclude that Croatia is a society of equality where cases of sexual harassment in the workplace occur sporadically. However, behind the small number of reported cases lies a painful truth: women, as well as victims of other types of violence, do not report incidents because there simply isn’t a functional system in place to protect them at work.

The team at the Office of the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality is acutely aware of this. “Labor laws stipulate that a mechanism for protecting workers’ dignity must be established, but creating such a mechanism doesn’t guarantee it will function. The knee-jerk reaction, especially among large companies, is to cover up these incidents. Our employers are not educated to recognize the value of processing such cases for the benefit of the workplace,” explains Nebojša Paunović, a key member of the Office’s team.

Together with 16 civil society organizations operating in seven European countries, this institution participates in the Teamwork 2 project, which aims to establish a functional system for victim protection.

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

Lovorka Marinović from the Center for New Initiatives highlights the grim reality we face: prejudices against women have not improved over the past decade.

OTV - Open Television is a local television talk show hosted by journalist Nikša Marević. In a 60-minute episode, Nikša engages in a full conversation with two experts from the TemWork2 project. These experts are Nebojša Paunović, a legal advisor, and Radojka Kraljević, a psychologist. The discussion centers around the project’s topic and the increasing awareness about its implementation