Croatia: And Fierce Women WOW Awards go to…

On Wednesday, March 4th 2020, at the packed Botanist Bar in Zagreb, the first awards ceremony for the Fierce Women WOW Awards for outstanding contribution to gender equality and social justice in Croatia in 2019 was organized by the portal and the social enterprise Fierce Women.

photos by Nina Đurđević

The award winners are: director Dana Budisavljević, deputy mayor of Glina Branka Bakšić Mitić, HGSS (Croatian Mountain Rescue Service) member and mountaineering instructor Tatjana Bračanov, culture and media activist Nora Krstulović, and the Women’s Room team led by coordinator Maja Mamula.

In the period of two months at the end of 2019, readers of portal nominated 47 individuals and eight collectives. After that 10 members of the NGO Expanse of Gender and Media culture Common Zone (the publisher of the portal and the founder of the social enterprise Fierce Women) decided on this year’s five winners. The reasons for the jury’s decision on the winners include the following:

Nora Krstulović

Founder and editor in chief of She has been a tireless activist for free and independent media, the rights of cultural workers, artists and gender equality for years.

In the past year, Nora has been engaged in various social initiatives. She was involved in the organization of “Justice for Girls” protest and active in #Spasime Initiative, also she was involved in a campaign by the Croatian Society of Film Directors “I Wan’t To Watch It, HRT (Croatian National Television) Won’t Allow It,” in defense of the rights and status of the free artists after the Ministry of Culture’s attempt to pass a harmful new Artists Act. Nora Krstulović is always clear and strong voice against censorship and
politically harmful interventions in culture, art and media.

Tatjana Bračanov

Tatjana Bračanov, mom, grandmother, sister, friend, wife, member of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service Šibenik, professional mountain guide of the Croatian Mountaineering Association and Zen Yoga teacher. At the end of July 2019, she walked the entire 1,300 km long Via Dinarica trail that stretches along the Dinarides from Slovenia to Albania. In doing so, she became the first woman from Croatia and the first woman from Southeast-Europe to cross the white trail of the Via Dinarica continuously and independently. This venture, she said, goes beyond personal significance – it is a promotion of Via Dinarica’s economic and tourism potential, but also of women’s courage, perseverance and endurance. “My dear women, if a grandmother of 50 years and 55 kilos can travel 1300 kilometers through Dinarides, 50 percent of which she has never been to, then you can all do whatever you want,” she said.

Maja Mamula and Women’s Room

Ženska soba (Women’s Room) team, led by coordinator Maja Mamula, is the only specialized organization in Croatia that has been working on sexual violence issues for 17 years and ensures that all survivors of sexual violence receive free, effective and individual support. After all these years of dedicated teamwork, the issue of sexual violence has finally come to public attention this year in Croatia, but the number of people seeking help from Ženska soba has also increased many times over. We are waiting for the Government of the Republic of Croatia to become aware that the work of Ženska soba urgently needs to be provided with adequate and continuous financing and that the system of combating sexual violence needs to be expanded to at least three more Centers for the victims of sexual violence. We should also bear in mind that Ženska soba has worked tirelessly to create public policies and improve legislation, and since the very adoption of the Criminal Code in 2013 they have insisted on abolishing the category of sexual intercourse without consent in the Criminal Code. This year they finally made it!

Branka Bakšić Mitić

Member of the People for People initiative and Deputy Mayor of Glina, selected as an independent candidate from the Serb national minority, who has devoted her mandate to helping people in the Banovina area. Initially she visited the people, living just an hour away from the capital Zagreb without electricity, water and sanitation, just to let them know they are not forgotten. After failing to get any help from politicians, she joined forces with Maja Sever and Mateja Medlobi, and set up the People for People initiative. With the help of numerous donors and volunteers, Branka was able to help hundreds of people, either with food packages, by bringing them a stove or by changing windows. For almost two years, Branka has been on the field tirelessly coordinating aid distribution in Banovina, and recently with the organization Zelena akcija launched a humanitarian crowdfunding campaign aimed at bringing electricity through solar systems to five households without electricity.

Dana Budisavljević

Director, producer and editor, one of the initiators of the ZagrebDox Festival and only the third woman to win the Golden Arena for Best Director at the Pula Film Festival for “The Diary of Diana B”. After 20 years of professional filmmaking, last year Dana Budisavljević presented a film about a fierce woman Diana Budisavljević, a heroine who organized the rescue of children from the Ustasha concentration camps during the World War II, participated in their care and kept a record of their personal information so that the identity of the children would not be lost. We are not forgeting the other Dana’s films: “Everything’s Fine” in which she portrays the life of a sex worker Lidia Šunjerga and “Family Meals” in which she talks about the process of coming out in her own family. Undoubtedly, Budisavljević is one of Croatian filmmakers who has marked the last decade in this cultural field.