This is an archived version of
Bridging the Gap! | Civic Europe
Social inclusion

Bridging the Gap!

Women’s Interethnic Network against the Populist Tide


Who is behind this?

Karolina Hrga

Centre for Women’s Studies


Who is joining forces?

Roma women's association Romsko srce


Bolji život – Association of Roma Women


Association SFERA, Čakovec


We also will cooperate with several other Roma Association across civic deserts in Croatia: Luna – Association of Roma friendship; Roma Association Lovari – Romska kuća etc.


Idea pitch

To counter the populist nationalist rise in Croatian politics, this project reaches out across the racist fueled divide between women of Croat and Roma ethnic groups in peripheral parts of Croatia. Exploiting the common difficulties in accessing reproductive health and safe environments, the project will forge an interthnically heterogeneous women’s alliance in civic deserts of Croatia.

Where will your project idea take place?

Slavonija and Baranja, Međimurje and Primorje regions of Croatia; communities with Roma settlements.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Croatian society is plagued with divisions along ethnic lines. Those are fueled either by extreme nationalist (against Serbs) or covertly racist (against Roma) ideologies. Both being on the rise due to the right-wing shift of Croatian mainstream politics, it leads to further social exclusion of ethnic minority communities. Secondly, metropolitan model of economic development has impoverished peripheral regions of Croatia, and concentrated economic power in country’s capital, which furthermore hardens everyday life on periphery. Finally, under the influence of conservative and alt-right think-tanks, right wing politicians are pushing the agenda of further political exclusion of ethnic minorities, as well as an elaborate attack on women’s reproductive rights.

Who are you doing it for?

Beneficiaries of the project will primarily be Roma women who are the most disadvantage group in our society, with highest illiteracy and school drop-out rate, especially Roma girls, also the most susceptible to gender based violence, and social exclusion. Secondary the idea aims at women who are living in the same peripheral communities as Roma women, and who are also subject to exclusion from public life, increased gender based violence and inability to access affordable reproductive healthcare. Finally, those peripheral communities that we describe as civic deserts will also benefit as a whole through inclusion of marginalized groups into public life, as it will bring diversity and possibility of political discussion, which will lead to heightening the level of democratic participation.

How do you plan to get there?

There will be four kinds of activities. Firstly, strengthening Roma women’s organizations for their non-formal education efforts with Roma girls, with the goal of preventing school drop-outs. Secondly, there will be across-the-ethnic-lines educations and discussions for both Croat and Roma women. Thirdly, there will be supervised reflection of the project implementation. And, finally, we will produce a policy proposal on how to improve everyday life of both Roma and Croat women, which will sum up the experiences of the project.

What are the expected results?

Expectedly, at the end of the project period there will be a network established, consisting of Roma and Croat women from peripheral regions of Croatia, specifically from five to seven local communities in those regions. They will be linked to social researchers, human rights campaigners and Roma and women’s organizers who could serve them as resource persons for their further activities on advocating for Roma and women’s human rights in Croatian peripheries, but who will also be able to provide them link to Roma and women’s organizations from neighboring countries of Bosnia&Herzegovina and Serbia, where women, and especially Roma women, are experiencing same adversities.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

This project aims at connecting women across the line of ethnic division in the quest for an answer to the rise of the populist nationalism which is endangering both ethnic minorities and women. Its underlying logic is that there are difficulties – such as access to reproductive health – which are common to both Croat and Roma women. Also, the project operates under an assumption that a joint effort to advocate for better availability of reproductive health services can bridge the ethnic gap and bring real life problems into public discussion, and so pose an alternative discourse to the one of ethnic line divisions.

Why is this idea important to you?

Being an organization that has dedicated itself to the advancement of the most vulnerable and marginalized social groups, we are fully aware that the exclusion of Roma on racist basis and the rise of populist nationalist politics is hurting our society and communities we live in. It does it so in two ways – more immediately it drives the wedge in ethnically heterogeneous communities, and on a societal level it reaffirms hierarchy of inequality. Our motivation to address those issues is in accordance with our vision of a world of justice, equality and inclusivity.

€ 80000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Equipment purchase for the needs of local organizations and newly founded initiatives 15.000 EUR; Expert labor cost/personnel costs 30.000 EUR; Travel and accommodation costs 4.000 EUR; promotion and educational materials 1.000 EUR etc.

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

All constructive comments and suggestions are welcome.




Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

Write comment