UNIGEM research promoted at the University of Sarajevo

The TPO Foundation from Sarajevo, in cooperation with the University of Sarajevo, held a promotion of the book on the results of the first regional research on gender-based violence in academic communities, conducted at 18 universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia. The research “The Challenges of Mainstreaming Gender Equality in University Communities: Fighting against Gender-Based Violence” was carried out as part of the UNIGEM (University and Gender Mainstreaming) project, which is funded by the Government of the United Kingdom, and which represents a strategic commitment of universities to ensure gender equality and a safe environment for teachers as well as students at universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.

“Gender equality and the fight against all forms of violence against women and girls is extremely important to the UK Government. The research we presented today shows how serious the issue of gender-based violence in universities is. This obliges universities to work even harder to prevent gender-based violence, as well as to hold the perpetrators accountable. I hope that this research will be taken seriously and will lead to positive changes,” emphasized the British ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, H. E. Julian Reilly.

Rector of the University of Sarajevo, Rifat Škrijelj, PhD, hopes that this book and research will open up important issues that have been discussed very quietly or not at all. He added that the book contains written findings that represent the reality of society in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Using a contemporary multidisciplinary approach, nineteen authors conducted extensive research at universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia in an effort to give concrete, tangible definitions to the concept of gender-based violence. Although we were all aware of this, the study has irrefutably proven that the current state of affairs is far from satisfactory. For the long fight against discrimination, we can say that with the publication of this study, we have taken a big step”, emphasized Rector Škrijelj.

The research involved 4,754 respondents from the ranks of teaching and administrative staff, as well as students of social, humanistic, natural, technical, health and other fields. The book was edited by  Zilka Spahić Šiljak, PhD,  Jasna Kovačević, PhD and Jasmina Husanović, PhD.

Jasna Kovačević, PhD, president of the Council for Gender Equality of the University of Sarajevo, pointed out the fact of the low level of knowledge about concepts related to gender discrimination and gender-based violence (GBV).

“The research results show that people in the academic community should be empowered to recognize GBV and to react when they recognize it. The fact is that in higher education institutions there are no appropriate mechanisms that go in the direction of solving the problem of gender discrimination and GBV. That’s why we all have to work on the systemic prevention of this problem”, emphasized Kovačević.

Some of the key findings of the conducted research are below. The ratio of 80% of interviewees confirmed direct knowledge of their colleagues having experienced sexual harassment (SH), GBV and/or discrimination,  up to 75.8% of teachers in the regional sample report do not know if procedures against perpetrators of gender-based violence (GBV) were initiated at all, 61% of interviewees confirmed they had personal experiences of GBV or SH. Also, it showed that there is no transparent and open communication about GBV at universities.

The book was published in Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian languages and will be promoted at all 18 partner institutions of the UNIGEM project until the end of December 2022. On the day of the Sarajevo promotion the book was also promoted at the University of Novi Sad, and on November 4, 2022 will be promoted at the International University in Travnik starting at 11:30hrs.