UNIGEM research promoted at the University of Tuzla (UNTZ)

Trust in institutions and the courage to face stereotypes and gender-based violence together were the key messages of Ph.D. Dženeta Omerdić, Ph.D. Anisa Avdagić and Ph.D. Damir Arsenijević at the promotion of the book “The Challenges of Mainstreaming Gender Equality in University Communities: Fighting Gender-Based violence”, at the University of Tuzla on December 15, 2022. The book was edited by Ph.D. Zilka Spahić Šiljak, Ph.D. Jasna Kovačević and Ph.D. Jasmina Husanović, and was created on the basis of the first regional research on gender-based violence in academic communities, conducted within the UNIGEM project. The promotion was organized by the UNTZ Council for Gender Equality and the TPO Foundation from Sarajevo, which implements the UNIGEM project in partnership with 19 universities from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia with the support of the United Kingdom Government.

Professor Omerdić pointed out how important it is to understand that gender-based violence is a social and not a private problem and that we can’t remain silent when someone is insulted with sexist jokes or when derogatory comments are directed at women in particular. Student voices must be heard, and in professors they should have allies to fight together for a 0% tolerance for violence in the university community.

Professor Avdagić connected her reflections on the book with literary texts and activist-oriented Bosnian female authors and artist who act subversively with their works and remind us all that we must speak openly about violence. She particularly referred to the intersectional approach in looking at marginalization and exclusion.

Professor Arsenijević underlined that he, as an outsider in the game and someone who is gay and a university professor, witnesses various forms of discrimination and exclusion of minorities, including sexual minorities. He called on male and female students not to be silent observers and accomplices in maintaining the status quo, which harms the victims of gender-based violence the most.

At the end of the promotion, the chairperson of the Council for Gender Equality of the University of Tuzla, Professor Jasmina Husanović, thanked everyone, especially the TPO Foundation, which runs the project with 19 partner universities.

As a reminder, UNIGEM research was conducted with an aim of scientifically establishing the issues that deal with the challenges of building an ethos of gender equality in higher education through policy development and sensitization of the teaching staff and student population regarding the topics of gender-based violence and sexual harassment. 12 scientists worked on the empirical material and research included 4,754 respondents, teaching and administrative staff, as well as students from all partner universities from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia.

We would like to thank our project partner, the University of Tuzla, for the cooperation, and especially for yesterday’s promotion of the results of the first research of this kind in BiH and the region. We hope that it will stimulate the growth of the academic public’s interest in this topic and will lead to new research in the field of gender.