Croatian Fierce Women WoW Awards 2021 winners

Winners with the award portraits, photo by Nina Đurđević

Expanse of Gender and Media Culture Common Zone held the 2nd Fierce Women WOW Award ceremony on March 3rd 2021. The event was further promoted through web portal and social enterprise Fierce Women. The event was broadcast live from the Zagreb bar Botaničar, where five of this year’s winners were presented – 5 women and collectives who have made a significant contribution to gender equality and social justice in Croatia within the last year.

The winners of the award are lawyer Antonija Petričušić, journalist Maja Sever, writer Monika Herceg, lawyer Zrinka Bojanić and the team of the Zagreb Psychological Society.

In the period of two months at the end of 2020, the readers of the portal, as well as last year’s award winners nominees, nominated over 60 individuals and collectives. Based on the nominations, 12 members and professional associates of the Common Zone, which is the publisher of the portal and the founder of the social enterprise Fierce Women, decided on this year’s five winners. The explanation of the jury’s decision on the winners states, among other things:

In the year of the pandemic, which significantly changed everyone’s life, Antonija Petričušić warned of the burden of schoolchildren with distance learning and violation of children’s right to equal participation in classes. She organized and motivated parents who tried to cope with changing education and work from home. In mid-2020, she participated in launching an initiative for the right of children to a free school meal, and found time to introduce a university course on women’s rights at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb. She is one of the co-founders of the LGBTIQA + association ‘Za Pravo’, which brings together students of the Faculty of Law with the aim of creating a safe, supportive and open environment for LGBTIQ people.

Maja Sever, photo Nina Đurđević

Maja Sever, a national television journalist and president of the biggest Croatian journalists’ union, is known for her social engagement, humanitarian work and rising up against hate speech, sexism and injustice. As president of the union, Sever advocated for the protection of the labor rights of journalists, whose working conditions have deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic. She called on journalists to report sexual harassment and abuse, and represented the interests of her colleagues as a union commissioner. Sever is also one of the founders of the humanitarian initiative ‘People for People’, which she launched with last year’s award winner Branka Bakšić Mitić and Mateja Medlobi, after her article on the difficult situation of the area around Glina was broadcast on the HTV show “Nedjeljom u 2”.

Monika Herceg, photo by Nina Đurđević

As a writer, Monika Herceg actively promotes the ideas of equality, justice and feminism. Earlier in 2020, Herceg also received the recognition from the national theatre for the best new play ‘Where to buy tenderness’ which focuses on violence against women and the trans-generational transmission of trauma and women’s relationships in a patriarchal environment. She won the regional award ‘Stories from the Balcony, Stories from the Balkans’ for the short drama ‘Dead Don’t Move’. With Barbara Matejčić and Dado Ćosić, she leads actions related to the suppression of violence against migrants. She participated with poetry in the commemoration for Aleksandra Zec. Last year, she published her third collection of poems, ‘Time before Language’, for which she received the ‘Zvonko Milković’ award. She also started a series of forums ‘Poets on Fridays’ where she focuses on the work of poets.

In recent years, Zrinka Bojanić has been engaged in the field of providing legal protection to women and LGBTIQ persons. At the end of 2020, with the association ‘Rainbow Families’, she achieved one of the greatest victories for the local LGBTIQ community and families – with her legal assistance, the Constitutional Court declared discrimination against same-sex couples in foster care unconstitutional, thus paving the way for equal LGBTIQ parenting. In addition, she represented other associations and individuals whose rights and dignity were undermined through the intensification of right-wing and populist initiatives aimed at reducing the human rights of minorities and women’s reproductive rights.

Sandra Tolić, Andrea Vranić i Ivana Ćosić Pregrad
of the Zagreb Psychological Society . Foto: Nina Đurđević

The team of the Zagreb Psychological Society was awarded for a systematic and sober response to social events, especially in the context of the aftermath of earthquakes and pandemics: through the production of relevant content available to all in which they provided expert advice and the promotion of science and human rights. During the year, they tirelessly produced content that was relevant to the situation, and selflessly shared it on their pages and social networks. They helped make it easier for citizens to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, uncertainty, helplessness, but also poor crisis management and sensationalist media coverage.

Five winners of the award were presented with portraits made for them by the illustrators of the card game ‘Fierce Women’: Tea Jurišić, Helena Nemec, Ana Salopek, Sindy Čolić, Ana Kovačić.

The award ceremony, which was held in epidemiological conditions this year, was led by members of the editorial board of the portal Tihana Bertek and Marino Čajdo; and Gabrijela Ivanov – one of the founders of the social enterprise ‘Fierce Women’ and the originator of the social game and award, also addressed the audience in a welcoming speech.

“Awards are not what is most important in this whole story, what is most important is that in one way or another each of us individually or in groups makes changes in our environments. The more we connect the better. Preserving and expanding the space of solidarity and justice should be a common mission for all of us, and there is no rule or criteria or reward that can tell whose work and contribution are better or more valuable. The past year has shown us exactly that when we all depended heavily on underpaid workers in trade and health, and when both work and school were installed in our living room and disrupted the boundaries of public, business, private “- she said.

Just as the portal daily reveals women who have either been erased by history or not fairly celebrated in the present day, so there are many women who unfortunately were not present in this year’s nominations. She therefore invited and reminded all readers to contribute to the award through nominations at the end of 2021.

The awarding of these prizes is not only a national story, but also an international one. Last year, the awards were presented in Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Ireland and Croatia; and this they were awarded in Slovenia (City of Women) and Serbia (BeFem and Femix).

Full video of the ceremony is available at Vox Feminae Facebook page.