Measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment

The field of research and innovation (R & I) is not immune to sexual and gender-based violence, but this issue tends to be underestimated in research organisations and research funding bodies. There is evidence that gender-based violence and sexual harassment are widespread in public institutions and universities, but this is not based on systematically collected data. For this reason, the European Commission has supported initiatives such as UniSAFE to improve knowledge about the extent of the problem and ways to address it. Recent analyses and reviews carried out in the framework of EU-funded projects on structural change, among others, show that there is an urgent need for action on this problem.

All organisations are subject to relevant national or regional laws and regulations, and numerous organisations are likely to have existing employment policies that cover dignity and harassment at work. Organisations may find it sufficient to treat gender-based violence under existing policies and procedures. Increasingly, however, institutions consider it necessary to set up dedicated structures and/or to issue specific procedures and instruments. In any case, the institution must make clear that it does not tolerate abuses.

Measures are needed in this area, such as providing information regarding sexual and gender-based harassment and offering attention and support to victims and witnesses of misconduct, with a commitment to putting an end to such behaviour. A gender equality plan (GEP) may consider what measures the organisation takes to combat gender-based violence and sexual harassment, including behaviour that violates any individual’s dignity or that creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Please have a look at the videos and webinars in tab 2 and further resources in tab 3, which provide more details and practical information for the implementation of measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment (e.g. guide, toolkit).


This training is part of the EU-funded project GE [Gender Equality] Academy capacity building programme. This training seeks to provide an understanding of sexual harassment as an expression of gender violence and power relations. It further discusses examples of interventions and policies and highlights the importance of embedding sexual harassment policies in institutional structural change.

  • In this video on sexual harassment among students, Minna Salminen Karlsson (Uppsala University) conducts an interview with Stina Powell from the Swedish University of Agricultural Studies, who has co-authored a paper entitled ‘Persistent norms and the #MeToo effect in Swedish forestry education’. The interview was conducted within the EU-funded project SPEAR and the article discussed can be found here .


The policy brief ‘Mobilising to eradicate gender-based violence and sexual harassment: a new impetus for gender equality in the European research area’ (June 2020) is based on the text adopted by the ERAC Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation on 22 May 2020. It lists 23 recommendations, among which is revising the charter and the code for researchers so that they address gender-based violence (in accordance with the Human Resources Excellence in Research Award).

The report Sexual harassment in the research and higher education sector: National policies and measures in EU Member States and associated countries, published in 2020 by the ERAC Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation, presents an analysis of the answers to a questionnaire sent to national authorities, research-performing organisations and research funding organisations across Europe.

‘Sexual harassment in higher education – a systematic review ’, published in 2020 by Fredrik Bondestam and Maja Lundqvist, reports on the prevalence of sexual harassment among students and the consequences of sexual harassment, and highlights the lack of evidence on the effects of preventive measures and the lack of theoretical, longitudinal, qualitative and intersectional research on sexual harassment in higher education.

Sexual Harassment in Academia – An international research review provides an overview of current knowledge in international research. The review is based on an analysis of approximately 800 publications, out of a total of 5 561, during 1966–2018, which were selected through an extensive search process in literature databases.

Sciences Po (Paris) developed Guidelines on Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the context of the EU-funded structural change project ‘Effective gender equality in research and academia’ (EGERA), which were updated in 2021 following a comprehensive review entrusted to a panel of internal and external experts. The whole policy addresses students and staff.

A concise guide entitled Guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment, harassment on grounds of sex and psychological harassment (2015) was developed by the Polytechnic University of Madrid in the context of the EU-funded structural change project ‘Transforming institutions by gendering contents and gaining equality in research’ (TRIGGER).

A document entitled Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence – Guidance for SOAS students and staff (2015), from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, presents awareness-raising and prevention initiatives, as well as guidance for victims and those supporting victims.

The intervention initiative toolkit (2015) was developed by the University of the West of England, Bristol, for the prevention of sexual coercion and domestic abuse in university settings.

A presentation on ‘Combating harassment: policy innovations’ (2020) was delivered by Ana Belén Amil (Central European University) as part of the EU-funded project ‘Supporting the promotion of equality in research and academia’ (SUPERA) during the conference Gender Equality in Central and Eastern European Countries: Policies and practices 2020.

The EU-funded project UniSAFE provides a questionnaire to collect data from staff and students on the prevalence, determinants and consequences of gender-based violence in universities and research organisations. It includes several modules, for example on prevalence, prevention, policies and partnerships, and contains filters to enable different study and work environments to be considered.

The Gender Equality Academy’s Inventory of Key Resources is a practical tool to support the design, implementation and evaluation of gender training initiatives, allowing quick access to relevant information and data pertaining to gender equality in science. It also provides resources for the thematic area ‘sexual harassment and gender-based violence’.

Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 of the International Labour Organization.