Strengthening institutional and media capacities to counter hate speech

The first ToT on gender-based hate speech completed

May 13, 2023
UNDP Montenegro/Marko Ilić

Ulcinj, May 13, 2023  Sexist hate speech is not an isolated incidence, but rather a reflection of existing gender inequalities and uneven distribution of power in our society. Apart from dissuading women from using their own voice, implying that activism and contribution to their community through political and public engagement are not intended for them, hate speech also leads to gender-based violence. This fact heightens the roles of the public sector and the media in countering sexism and misogyny.

The training on gender-based hate speech was delivered in Ulcinj, hosted by the Human Resource Management Administration (HRMA) and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in Montenegro, with the purpose of building the capacities of HRMA trainers to ultimately improve skills and knowledge of civil servants in preventing all forms of gender discrimination towards developing a society of equal opportunities.

Almedina Vukić-Martinović

UNDP Montenegro/Marko Ilić
Importance of improving the legal framework and gender mainstreaming 

A trainee and a gender equality trainer, Almedina Vukić-Martinović, emphasized the importance of having provisions in place for taking legal action against sexist hate speech.

"I thought sexism was much better legally defined, but I realised during this training that sexism is not explicitly covered in the normative framework. Such absence of provisions results in weak institutional mechanisms. The sanctions envisaged for gender-based hate speech are preposterous, especially when concerning high-ranking officials. I believe that the skills I acquired will help me prepare my team in the public administration to continue checking to what degree the policies are gendered and how much gender equality is taken into account in each phase of policy planning, starting from situation analysis and ending with the implementation and monitoring", she noted.

Miodrag Strugar

UNDP Montenegro/Marko Ilić
A small step from hate speech to violence 

Emphasizing the significance of public discourse, a trainee and a communication trainer, Miodrag Strugar, said that everything always begins with an attempt at communication, so the training taught how to recognise hidden messages which may not look like hate speech to many when first read, heard or seen.

"Media have to suppress sexism, and such power lies in the hands of media owners and editors. On the other hand, the audience should sanction the media which promote gender-based hate speech. The training gave me an opportunity to learn for the first time about the cases before the European Court for Human Rights dealing with sexist hate speech in public discourse. An insight into comparative caselaw is particularly important since there is only a small step from hate speech to violence, where hate speech is a predecessor to violence", Strugar pointed out.

Sonja Vojinović

UNDP Montenegro/Marko Ilić
Training as the starting point of important changes

“In the context of our long-standing partnership with HRMA, this training helps build additional skills of gender equality and communication trainers, since only systemic and durable solutions are conducive to true gender equality”, said UNDP Programme Manager, Jelena Miljanić.

The Head of the HRMA Training Sector, Sonja Vojinović, noted that HRMA was an institution which should lead by example in taking a clear stand on gender-based hate speech. Vojinovic noted it was a long process, but she was noticing changes starting from the core principles of gender equality: "We are happy to hear that fellow workers use gender sensitive language when communicating among themselves. We do not refer to trainers in male forms only any longer.”

The training on gender-based hate speech is organized within the “Enabling dialogue and collaborative action for countering hate speech and bridging divides" project implemented by UNDP with the aim of countering and addressing gender-based hate speech, sexism and misogyny. The project is financed through the UNDP portfolio for governance, peace-building, crisis and resilience, thanks to the contributions by Sweden and Luxembourg. The trainers were the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Aneta Spaić, and UNDP Project Coordinator, Marija Blagojević.