Community development, Health

Women of the Islands

Co-designing a vision for women’s health and rights on Croatian islands through civic dialogue, participation and engagement


Who is behind this?

Ivana Zanze

Roda - Parents in Action


Who is joining forces?

K’o žena (Like a Woman): informal feminist collective from the island of Korčula



Idea pitch

Life on Croatian islands has two faces - tourism’s summer sun&sea and year-round inhabitants’ isolation. On-island women’s reproductive health services depend on the availability and personal values of few local health professionals, issues which few existing civic initiatives don’t address.
This project will engage island women to build a participative, multi-generational, inter-island civic network to advocate for their health needs, with the potential to grow in size and scope.

Where will your project idea take place?

Five islands on the Croatian Coast

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Issues faced by women on islands are complex: traditional gender roles, small, rural areas with strained access to employment, education, social & health services mesh with life in an area that is easily isolated. There are no national networks addressing island women’s issues. Women’s health services are poorly organised, partially because women are not consulted, and because of the shame and fear associated with discussing reproductive health. Poorly organised and funded services don’t take into consideration the unique needs of women on islands, which also discourages women’s empowerment.
This project will engage, empower, teach and mentor women on 5 islands to build a participative, inter-island, multi-generational civic network to raise the visibility of island women’s health needs.

Who are you doing it for?

The main target group is women who live on 5 islands in Croatia, some of whom belong to vulnerable or marginalised groups (youth and older women, pregnant women, women with disabilities, members of the LGBT+ community). These women have different levels of education and are members of different socio-economic groups and generations.
Each of the 5 islands will have 1-2 participative civic engagement coordinators who will be given training and mentorship through this project, which they can use after the project has ended to engage citizens on women’s and other issues.
Indirect target groups include women who live on other Croatian islands, who will be encouraged to organise civic participation in their communities and will be able to join the network outside of the project’s activities.

How do you plan to get there?

1) Create a core group of island coordinators from 5 islands (1-2 each):
-Circulate invitation via partner networks; Online campaign
-Interview and select applicants (ensure island geographic, size diversity).

2) Engage with stakeholders
-Organise meetings and circulate memoranda of understanding to Ministry of Health, Ombudspersons; Regional health, gender equality offices (county, town); Regional health services
-Circulate letters of understanding to local stakeholders (health services, councils)
-Kickoff press release to local, national media

3) Roda organises 3 webinars for island coordinators on motivating citizens, the power of civic initiatives, participative decision making

4) Community engagement
-Collect old photographs and stories of women from each island, make 10’ video each
Online, local campaign advertising world cafe participation

5) World cafe events
-Present 10’ video, discussion; world cafe
-Report results to core group and media

6) Action Plan
-In-person meeting to collaborate on draft based on conclusions from all events
-Online, local public consultation on draft
-Local mapping: how to support continued civic education needs?

7) Presentation and Continued Engagement
-Online panel presentation of Action Plan with stakeholders; encourage new platform members, social media campaign
-Deliver community civic education

What are the expected results?

The main result of the project will be a platform of citizens from 5 Croatian islands dedicated to engaging on women’s health issues in their communities. Citizens will be introduced to a form of positive, participative engagement that they will be encouraged to try out in their local communities on other issues as well. The network will also potentially grow to include more islands once the project is over.

Other results include:
- Training local coordinators on participative community engagement and policy advocacy methodologies
- Engaging local communities and decision makers on women’s health issues
- Preparing an Advocacy Action Plan for Island Women’s Health
- Creating a national platform of island women committed to improving women’s health in their communities

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

Local coordinators will be trained to motivate, engage and participatively include members of their community of varying backgrounds, age and values in a civic platform on women’s health.

Local coordinators will be members of a national platform of island women, who will work together to create an island women's health action plan based on the information gathered at the community events. The community will be invited to a public consultation on the draft document, ensuring a participative process.

The platform will communicate the action plan to policymakers, with the potential to improve the quality of life in their communities.

Long-term, this experience of engagement around a values-ridden issue like women’s health will create a culture of engagement on contentious issues.

Why is this idea important to you?

Croatian media regularly run about island women giving birth on ferries and military helicopters because of poor health services and access in their communities. Despite this, little has been done to address these problems and we want change.
Roda has convened groups of marginalised and vulnerable women (women with disabilities, women in prison, asylum seekers), giving them the knowledge and space to advocate for their health needs, fostering partnerships and networks.
K’o žena has motivated, educated and empowered island women about their human rights.
This partnership will leverage the knowledge and experience of both organisations to engage, address and amplify island women’s health issues, providing local, regional and national governments with concrete policy improvement plans.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Events and dissemination: 5845 EUR (17%)
Travel and meetings: 4581 EUR (13%)
Trainings: 4324 EUR (12%)
Personnel and partner / training consultant honoraria: 18,469 EUR (53%)
Indirect costs: 1776 EUR (5%)

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Case studies and perspectives on:
Methodologies for engaging engage women from patriarchal rural / dislocated / island communities
Maintaining sustainable, long-term network engagement
Implementing women’s health education in isolated communities
Intergenerational knowledge dissemination


Roda Parents in Action



Ivana Zanze

Branka Mrzic Jagatic

Idea created on April 25, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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