Višnja Ljubičić, the Ombudsperson for Gender Equality, has issued a warning to HRT (Croatian Radiotelevision) after receiving a complaint from women’s organizations about discrimination. The complaint arose because in the Otvoreno show discussing the past year, which aired on December 28 on HTV1, there were six male participants, and no women were invited.
The show, hosted by Zrinka Grancarić, exclusively featured male participants. The topic of the show was a retrospective of events that marked 2023 in Croatia and the world, as well as expectations for 2024.
Women’s groups from the Women’s Network of Croatia filed a complaint about discrimination, and Ombudsperson Ljubičić agreed with their conclusion that by choosing exclusively male participants, the show “sent a discriminatory and unacceptable message that there are no competent women who could comment on events in the past year.”
The guests on the show included Mladen Vedriš from Effectus University, foreign affairs commentator Željko Trkanjec from Jutarnji list, communication expert Krešimir Macan, academic Sven Lončarić from the Center for Artificial Intelligence at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, Josip Pavić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Nikša Bratoš, composer, and music producer.
In her warning and recommendations, Ombudsperson Ljubičić pointed out that she does not question the expertise of the invited participants but finds it particularly worrisome that this is not an isolated case. She emphasized that it is a common practice on public television that informative shows discussing important social, political, and other topics of public interest often do not include any female participants.
The Ombudsperson sees the reason for this practice in someone in the editorial team arbitrarily deciding that there are no suitable competent female experts to invite to the show. She stated that this does not reflect the truth and does not help eliminate stereotypes that women do not have or should not have relevant knowledge about the economy, politics, geopolitics, artificial intelligence, and similar topics.
Therefore, she sent a warning about discrimination, as defined by the Gender Equality Act, to HRT’s CEO Robert Švebio, highlighting that it is an “unequal and discriminatory treatment of women compared to men” to exclude a woman from the relevant program.
She also reminded HRT that, starting from January 1, 2023, the broadcaster committed to supporting gender equality in its contract with the government. This commitment includes ensuring the representation of both genders as equal participants in discussions and directing programming towards combating gender stereotypes, sexism, and eliminating discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
Translated by CJA