SafeJournalists: Women Journalists in Western Balkans Still Work Under Pressure and Threats


    On the International Women’s Day, the SafeJournalists Network points out that the position of women journalists in the Western Balkans remains difficult. Although women journalists usually work under similar conditions as their male colleagues, it seems that there is still a gender gap and that in some positions in the media sector women journalists still earn less than their male colleagues, and there are fewer of them in management positions in the media. Often female journalists do not have appropriate employment contracts and therefore cannot exercise their rights to health care.

    Women in the media are also exposed to insults and threats on social networks, often sexist and based on gender stereotypes, which affects their personal and professional reputation, and these pressures often go unreported.


    Although women journalists in Albania continue to report sexual harassment, online violence and smear campaigns as the most common forms of gender-based pressure they face, some cases still go unreported because many women journalists feel that their complaints would not be taken seriously or that they would face retaliation for speaking out. Moreover, there is a growing concern regarding gender disinformation and online violence against women journalists.

    Women journalists in Albania report that they receive a large number of misogynistic and threatening comments on social networks, with some comments being explicitly violent or sexual in nature. This type of harassment and disinformation online harms women’s careers as it can discourage them from pursuing certain stories or taking on certain roles in the media industry.

    In North Macedonia, a general assessment is that the position of women journalists in newsrooms does not differ much from the position of male colleagues. However, the fact is that journalists often do not recognize gender discrimination and the unfavorable position of women in relation to men in the workplace. When reporting on sensitive topics, women journalists suffer insults and humiliations, which destroy their personal and professional reputation. These qualifications apply exclusively to women, in a pejorative sense, based on prejudices and gender stereotypes, states the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM).

    As AJM reports, it seems that harassment, threats and pressures on the social networks happen more often to women journalists because the environment is still such that they suffer greater insults, unlike their colleagues, just because they are women. Comments and/or messages are less likely to criticize their professional performance, as opposed to their physical appearance or personal life.

    Although recently there has been no major difference between the number of attacks and threats directed at men and women in Croatia, it has been noticed that harsher threats have been directed at women, as well as that in the last few years they have been victims of physical attacks more often.

    Women journalists usually work under similar conditions as their male colleagues, however, it seems that there is still a gender gap and that in some positions in the media sector women journalists still earn less than men. Atypical workers, such as freelance journalists, often do not have some rights, such as maternity leave, because they do not have employment contracts.

    The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) is concerned about the increase in the number of attacks on journalists in Kosovo, especially the disturbing trend of targeting women journalists. AJK states that women are often easier targets and that it is necessary to protect their safety and rights. They call on all journalists, especially women, to report any attacks or threats they face for prompt action and support.

    Women journalists in Serbia suffer fewer attacks and threats than journalists in general, but threats directed at them are extremely fierce and severe. Women journalists are especially targeted in the online sphere, where extremely harsh threats are accompanied by misogynistic insults. Comments are made regarding their appearance, and their attitudes in relation to sensitive issues are also commented on, while women journalists’ attitudes towards women and LGBT groups are particularly under attack. 

    It is more difficult for women journalists to go through processes before competent authorities as the institutions treat them rudely and do not respect their right to privacy; additionally, they are exposed to, within proceedings, to unnecessary and particularly dangerous contacts with those who threaten them. At the same time, they suffer pressure from their environment, colleagues, often family and friends, who consider them partially responsible for what happens to them. This is one of the reasons why many women journalists are reluctant to report threats to the authorities.

    According to the BH Journalists Association, the fact that it is people in high public positions who are often behind verbal threats and attacks in Bosnia and Herzegovina is particularly worrying. The President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, stands out in a negative context as a “record holder” in the number of attacks on women journalists, misogynistic comments and brutal violations of women’s human rights. In no case of Milorad Dodik’s threats did competent judicial authorities or government institutions, such as the Gender Center of Republika Srpska or the Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina, act in their official capacity or take any legal measures to protect women journalists.

    There is a serious problem in BH in the protection of women journalists in cases of online violence and threats because not a single indictment has been brought against one or more persons who call into question the safety and professional and human integrity of women journalists by long-lasting targeting, hate speech and gender-based verbal insults.

    Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (TUMM) in 2023 documented 6 alarming attacks and threats directed at brave women in the media industry in Montenegro. This included the first case of sexual harassment in this sector.

    The status of women in journalism in Montenegro continues to stagnate, even though they are the majority of media personnel, according to TUMM. The organization’s research highlights the challenges women face in balancing their personal and professional lives, often exacerbated by a lack of editorial and peer support in addressing these challenges. TUMM calls on journalists and media workers to unite in the struggle to enable every journalist, regardless of gender, to work without fear of harassment or violence. “Let’s together create a safer environment with more respect for everyone,” TUMM said. 

    Last year, on the International Women’s Day, the SafeJournalists Network launched the campaign “Women Journalists in the Front Lines” (, the aim of which is to point out the precarioius position of women in journalism and their exposure to attacks and threats.

    Since 2016, more than 1.650 cases have been registered in the Network’s database of attacks and threats against journalists and other media workers. Year after year, the number of threats and attacks directed at women journalists and media workers continues to increase. That is why the SafeJournalists Network decided to launch a campaign featuring the first online exhibition where fourteen women journalists from the countries of the Western Balkans tell their stories of experienced discrimination, pressure, threats and even physical attacks.

    The SafeJournalists Network will remain committed to monitoring, analyzing and reporting violations of the rights of women journalists in order to protect their safety.

    Visit the online exhibition “Women Journalists in the Front Lines”: 

    Join us in advocating for the safety and dignity of women journalists!