The project

Our mission

Gender-based violence is a complex, prevalent, persistent feature and force in many organisations, with pandemic proportions. Violence, violations and abuse may be physical, sexual, economic/financial, psychological – online or offline – and can include gender or sexual harassment. It often remains unspoken.

Universities and research organisations are not exempt from this pandemic. Specific organisational structures can even create conditions for hierarchies of power that are structured by gender and age and regularly underpin violence. While gender-based violence deeply impacts individual lives, it also has serious social, economic, and health repercussions on organisational and social levels.

Despite the scale, the political significance and the growing interest in academia, gender-based violence in research organisations remains largely under-reported and under-researched. Without sufficient knowledge, infrastructure, measures, and activities in place in academia, it is difficult to fully prevent, protect or even prosecute.

  • How large is the prevalence of gender-based violence in European research performing organisations?
  • How is it affected by specific organisational structures and hierarchies of power?
  • Do EU States have the adequate legal or policy frameworks to bring institutional change?

Over three years, UniSAFE will provide up-to-date, robust and reliable quantitative and qualitative data on gender-based violence, including newly emerging forms of violence, in universities and research performing organisations. These results will be translated into policy recommendations and a toolbox for universities and research organisations.


Understand Contexts

UniSAFE will start by generating a solid understanding of the key issues in gender-based violence studies and identify the gaps by collecting evidence from previous studies and existing data and by mapping national policies and legal frameworks.

Collect Evidence

UniSAFE will then gather and analyse quantitative and qualitative empirical evidence on gender-based violence in universities and research organisations. The project will be looking into its determinants and consequences, as well as the efficiency of measures in combatting gender-based violence in these structures.

Produce Insights

The project’s findings will be translated into concrete policy recommendations, tailored tools and capacity-building activities and trainings to support stakeholders involved in tackling gender-based violence in higher education and research organisations. 

Ensure Impacts

UniSAFE will ensure that these stakeholders are empowered to implement effective policies through capacity-building programmes, a co-creation approach of the tools, and advocacy actions. Another project legacy will be a long-lasting community of universities and research organisations willing to develop and improve policies to eradicate gender-based violence in their institution.


To develop the necessary knowledge to combat and eradicate gender-based violence, the UniSAFE project relies on an ambitious comparative multi-level research design and a holistic analytical model.

One main focus of the project will be on collecting empirical evidence of the prevalence of gender-based violence, understanding how this relates to its determinants and consequences. The research will also be looking into how prevalence responds to the roles of university and research organisations in preventing, protecting, prosecuting, providing services, supported by policies and partnership (see model). Each of these mechanisms will be investigated on national, organisational and individual levels.

Prevalence and impacts of GBV

prevalence, determinants and consequences of GBV will be analysed via data gathered by a large survey among 45 research performing organisations (micro level).

Organisational responses and infrastructure

will be investigated via data gathered by in-depth case studies, interviews, and a strategic mapping of policy responses of research performing organisations in 15 member states (meso level).

Legal and policy frameworks

will be examined through extensive mapping by national experts in 27 European states and 3 associated states (macro level).


By generating and disseminating new knowledge on gender-based violence, and by empowering stakeholders to implement its insights, UniSAFE is designed to have four long-term sustainable impacts:

A better understanding of gender-based violence in research performing organisations

Effective policies and measures implemented in research performing organisations

Increased capacity of students and staff to address gender-based violence

Decrease in gender-based violence in academia and research workplaces in Europe