Open call: Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in the Balkans

Journalists and writers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are invited to apply for a specialised programme that aims to examine and expose different aspects of the trend of offline and online gender-based violence in the region.


BIRN has partnered with ATINA NGO to counter the growing trend of violence based on the victims’ gender by increasing the capacity of journalists to understand the complexity of gender-based violence and exploitation and empowering them to engage in covering gender-related issues. Through its programme, BIRN is looking for journalists and writers interested in revealing the scale of gender-based violence in the region.

We are offering a specialised, eight-month programme that includes: on-the-job mentoring and editorial sessions to produce high-quality journalism; educational sessions focused on gender-based violence; financial support and assistance.

We are particularly interested in stories that cover under-reported topics of violence against women in the region. The applications will be evaluated based on the following: relevance of the presented story, feasibility, originality of the piece, professional qualifications of the applicants, motivation expressed in the application and journalistic approach

Each selected candidate/team will receive a bursary of 1,000 euros to support their reporting. If the story covers more than one of the targeted countries, this will be seen as an advantage.

To apply for the programme, use the application form attached below to send us your story proposal.

This call is open until August 21, 2021.


Through its current ongoing monitoring process, BIRN has mapped numerous cases of digital rights violations directly linked to gender-based violence.

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, women were exposed to increased violence both offline and online. Based on the evidence, BIRN reported that the rates of domestic abuse went up since states in the Balkans began imposing strict limitations on movement in the fight against COVID-19.

Gender-based violence is prohibited under numerous international conventions, as well as under national laws in many countries. But the legal framework is often hazy when it comes to online gender-based violence, even though the consequences can be equally as destructive. Online perpetrators frequently go unidentified.

While both women and men report exposure to such violence, the data indicate that women and girls are the most common victims of online violence. They suffer the most drastic forms of violence and are most affected by the consequences of this type of violence. The need for more thorough research on violence against women and girls is indicated by the fact that 9 million girls in Europe say they experienced some form of digital violence by the age of 15, that one in five teenagers in Europe report becoming victims of cyberbullying, that girls are at higher risk, and that in 2014, 87 per cent of reported photos of child sexual abuse were photographs of girls.

BIRN’s investigation from the previous year on attacks on female journalists in the Balkans has shown that they face online abuse on a daily basis and many have said they were left to suffer alone.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to all journalists and writers who believe they have a good story on an under-reported topic concerning gender-based violence in the Balkans. We also welcome applications from staff reporters from local and national media who wish to co-publish the story with us.

Story requirements

  • The story must deal with the gender-based violence (online and offline) in the targeted region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia).
  • The story must be relevant to the Balkan region.
  • We are looking for in-depth, investigative stories that provide new information or have a unique angle on the issue.
  • The story should be around 1,500 words long.
  • Each selected story must be published within six months of receipt of the first installment of the bursary.

How to apply?

Send us your story proposal using the story grant form, downloadable here.

Download the Story Grant Form

Download the Declaration

Please send the completed form together with a signed declaration and your CV to  no later than August 21, 2021.

Platform B: Amplifying Strong and Credible SEE Voices

Event series by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and partners

Together with our partners, BIRN is launching a series of online and offline events aimed to amplify the voices of strong and credible individuals and organisations in the region that promote the core values of democracy, such as civic engagement, independent institutions, transparency and rule of law.

As a primarily media organisation, we want to open space and provide a platform to discuss and reshape our alliances in light of the challenges facing democracies in South-East and Central Europe.

This effort comes at a critical time when the region is seeing several troubling trends: centralized power, reduced transparency, assaults on media, politicized judiciaries, unchecked corruption, online violations and social polarization – all amidst heightened geopolitical tensions and deep divisions in Europe.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Platform B event series will be organised in accordance with all relevant health measures. As the situation improves, we hope to be able to host some of the events in BIRN spaces in Sarajevo and Belgrade, and elsewhere in the region.

The Platform B will be an opportunity for individuals and groups to meet monthly on selected topics.

Opening event: Digital Rights Falter Amid Political and Social Unrest: What Now?

Date: 1 July, 2021 (Thursday)

Time: 15.00, CET

At this event, BIRN and SHARE Foundation will discuss its annual digital rights report, together with other members of the newly established SEE Network, talking about the key trends concerning the digital ecosystem.

We monitored digital rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia and collected more than 1500 cases of online violations.

In Southern and Eastern Europe, where online disinformation campaigns are endangering guaranteed individual freedoms, and while the decline in internet safety has become a worrying trend, citizens with poor media and digital illiteracy have been left without viable protection mechanisms.

The event participants will have an opportunity to discuss and hear reflections from representatives of: EDRi, Zasto ne?, Citizen D, Homo Digitalis, SCiDEV, Partners Serbia, Metamorphosis, Atina NGO, Media Development Center.

More information and registration

Second event: Freedom of Information in the Balkans: Classified, Rejected, Delayed

Date: July 15, 2021 (Thursday)

Time: 14.00, CET

The global pandemic has been used as an excuse for many Balkan states to not fully implement freedom of information laws, leaving the public in the dark.

Transparency has been another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While on paper, freedom of information laws are up-to-date in almost all countries in the region, implementation is patchy at best and has grown worse since governments clamped down on the flow of information with the onset of the coronavirus.

Together with journalists, public information officers and colleagues from Open Government Partnership we will reflect on the findings of BIRN’s tracking institutional transparency report and offer recommendations on how to make our institutions open and accountable.

Registration form will be available here soon.

Events in August and in the fall will focus on investigative journalism and gender justice.