National Equality and Diversity Awards: nominations revealed

The nominees for the National Equality and Diversity Awards have been disclosed. The committee of experts selected candidates that have demonstrated outstanding achievements and sustained commitment to the pursuit of diversity, equality and inclusion in the society. The nominees include theater play, podcast author, TV show, elementary school and others.

The public voting is open until the 2nd of June. The final score for each nominee is composed of the Selection Committee's secret voting and online voting results. Selection Committee and public voting each comprise 50 percent of the final score. The nominee that has the highest score of Selection Committee and online voters is announced as the winner in their category. The awards ceremony will take place at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.


The Gender Equality Award is presented for the advancement of non-stereotypical and progressive views towards women and men. The nominees are:

Team of Theater Play “Panic” from Kaunas Drama Theater – for the theater play, which reconsiders stereotypical scenarios of masculinity in the society. The play talks about emotional breakdowns, relationships between mental health and masculine identities, male friendships. Director: Kamilė Gudmonaitė. Actors: Mantas Zemleckas, Gytis Laskovas, Vaidas Maršalka. Set and costume designer: Barbora Šulniūtė.


Project on Women’s Leadership “Go Forward!” – for the promotion of women’s leadership, successful career opportunities and fight against gender stereotypes. In 2019 the project, which was initially based on personal commitment to equality, united more than 7000 women and girls. The founder of “Go Forward!” is Jurga Varanavičius.


Donatas Paulauskas – for the book “Who needs crying men”, which sparked a debate about the emotional world of men and revealed that gender stereotyping is also a men’s topic. The book consists of personal essays about living in an environment pervaded by traditional masculinity, persistently trying to understand rules of the „male world“ and seeking definitions of modern masculinity.


The Nations Dialogue Award is presented for contributions to ethnic cooperation and the dismantling of xenophobia, as well as racial and ethnic stereotypes. The nominees are:

Multicultural Youth Center “Help to Fit In” (Lith. “Padėk pritapti”) – for the comic book “Draw Me a Way. Illustrated Roma History”, which tells the history of Roma people in Lithuania through promoting tolerance to different cultures and customs. This is the first comic book of its kind in Lithuania, created and published by the „Help to Fit In“ Center and an illustrator Akvilė Magicdust, involving children and young people from the Lithuania‘s Roma community and other ethnic groups.


Ina Šilina, Author of Podcast “NYLA Ru” – for professional and quality media content in Russian language in Lithuania. Ina Šilina’s and “Nanook‘s” Russian podcasts break stereotypes and tell us about Russian speakers living in Lithuania, independent journalists in Russia and Russian political opponents fleeing the Kremlin regime, human rights defenders and LGBT community.


Dovydas Zundelovičius, Anna Zundelovič, Grigorijus Zundelovičius – for preserved memory of national diversity by creating a Synagogue Square Memorial in Jurbarkas. Its message is to immortalize the vast Jewish community that have lived in Jurbarkas since 16th century and to showcase its role in the history of the city by mentioning the name of each Jewish family that have lived here. Also, to honor the ones, who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.


Rainbow Appreciation Award is presented for contributions to LGBT human rights, the fight against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and the promotion of social integration of the local LGBT community. The nominees are:

Elena Reimerytė and Project “Spalvos” (Eng. “Colors”) – for documentaries that boldly talk about LGBT topics and challenge the heteronormative paradigm. The episodes explore topics that are rarely found elsewhere, e.g. same-sex families, ethical non-monogamy, drag culture, migration, ageism, alternative lifestyles and professions.


Pijus Beizaras and Mangirdas Levickas – for the determination to fight for LGBT equality. In 2020 the European Court of Human Rights adopted a landmark judgment in the case Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania. The Strasbourg court concluded that the Lithuanian authorities had discriminated the applicants on the grounds of their sexual orientation by refusing to investigate into their complaints on homophobic hate speech online.


Podcast “Nyla” by Journalist Team “Nanook” – for the series of podcasts about LGBT community, its challenges and culture in Lithuania. In 2019 the team of journalists released four podcasts on LGBT community’s history, cinema, art and life.



“The Best Age – My Age” Award is presented for initiatives that promote the realization of people’s potential and goals in work, leisure or communal work in spite of stereotypes about young or old age, and for intergenerational cooperation. The nominees are:

Klaipėda District Seniors, Participating in the Program “I am Moving!” (Lith. “Aš judu!”) – for being active in developing healthy lifestyle habits. Participants of the program attend physical activity classes three times a week, as well as participate in practical mental health and nutrition trainings. The program aims to equip participants with the necessary skills to exercise.


Occupational Hub for the Elderly „Seniors‘ Beehive“ – for promoting various activities for seniors. Its idea is to encourage non-governmental organizations to develop activities for people of more mature age in the spheres of occupation (e.g. socializing, board games, music, handicrafts), education (e.g. learning languages and computer literacy) and health (e.g. exercise and dancing).


Musical TV Reality Show “The Voice of Lithuania. Seniors” – for breaking television stereotypes about older people. In 2019 the first season of this reality show in Lithuania was produced by attracting participants, who are above 60 years of age. The show rejects stereotype that TV and music projects are aimed exclusively at young people. The show is produced by the creative house “Elitaz”.


The Overcoming Obstacles Award is presented for outstanding accomplishments towards deconstructing physical, social, cultural and (or) other obstacles that people with disabilities face in securing dignified lives and integration in our society. The nominees are:

Klaipėda District Dovilai Elementary School – for its inexhaustible energy and persistence in involving children with disabilities into mainstream education. The school has 224 students, 15 of them with autism syndrome and 2 children with Down syndrome. There are students with mild and moderate intellectual disabilities as well. These students study in common classrooms, attend all events, excursions, and various extracurricular activities.


March by People with Disabilities to Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Baltic Way – for decisively overcoming the distance between Vilnius and Tallinn. It is a unique initiative for the Baltic States that took place for the first time. A team of 17 people, 11 of whom move in a wheelchair, together with hundreds of other participants of this important celebration for Lithuania, successfully overcame the Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn route in wheelchairs in a relay race manner.


Reality Documentary Show „Special Squad“ – for examples of strength, endurance and courage, for which disability is not an obstacle. This is the first television project of its king, bringing together people with physical disabilities and military personnel. Paralympians and former soldiers showcased by their example that everyone can defend their homeland, because the strength of a true soldier lies not in the strength of the body but in the strength of the spirit.


The Award for Diversity of Religions and Beliefs is presented to a person, an organization, an idea or a project contributing to the advancement and strengthening of freedom of conscience and beliefs and the promotion of diversity of religions, beliefs, and tolerance in Lithuania. The nominees are:

Ancient Baltic Faith Community “Romuva” – for its determination to defend religious rights of the community and to seek recognition before the State. In 2019 the Lithuanian Parliament refused to grant State recognition to this religious community, even though it meets all the requirements of the Lithuanian law. In response “Romuva” has applied before the European Court of Human Rights. The example of “Romuva” and its principal position has led to a broader discussion on freedom of religion and belief in Lithuania


News Portal “15min” – for ethical and respectful coverage of topics on diversity of religions and beliefs. In 2019 the portal published series of articles about these topics and distinguished itself in professionalism, encouragement of critical thinking and promotion of resistance against public stereotypes. The portal has covered topics on the Baháʼí Faith, the ancient Baltic religious community “Romuva”, the Society for Krishna Consciousness and others.


The Open Society Citizen Award is presented in recognition of courageous fostering of democratic values in one’s business, social or public environment. The nominees are:

Ligita Girskienė, Chairwoman of Klaipėda “Marių” Community – for a breakthrough in the fight against environmental pollution. For more than 10 years Ms. Girskienė has been combating and publicizing issues related to environmental pollution in Lithuania. In response to her initiative about 4 thousand people, who have been suffering from environmental stench and pollution for a long time, publicly protested on the streets of Klaipėda in 2019.


News Portal “15min” – for promoting openness in the society and nourishing democratic values in media content and media business. In 2019 the portal became the first media outlet in Lithuania to express support for the Baltic Pride festival by becoming its official media partner. “15min” has also become the first media outlet to join the Diversity Charter, i.e. a network that brings together organizations and businesses committed to equal opportunities at work.


Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė – for the opera “Sun & Sea (Marina)” that brings up the embarrassing truth about the climate crisis. The winning performance of the Golden Lion of the 2019 Venice Biennale talks about environmental changes – here the climate crisis evolves in a careless and lazy manner. The songs by summer dwellers about daily pleasures fill us with the catastrophic feeling. Artists have shown that the catastrophe could be described in a subtle manner and without didactics.


The Breakthrough of the Year Award is presented in recognition of widely publicized ideas, initiatives and works that promoted diversity and equality in society. The nominees are:

Elena Reimerytė and Project “Spalvos” (Eng. “Colors”) – for progressive documentary to Lithuania about free people from all over the world. The episode „Gay Dads“, broadcasted by the national broadcaster, received a lot of media attention and sparked public debate about the Lithuania‘s Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information, which is the only of its kind in the European Union. The opposing conservative groups organized a protest and tried to stop the show from being broadcasted. However, the freedom of speech persisted.


Work Shadowing Initiative DUOday – for enabling people with disabilities to try different professions, get to know different organizations and their teams. DUOday is a work duet day organized in Europe for many years. During the day a person with disabilities and a company employee work together on the tasks and goals of the specific workplace. 25 companies and organizations and 32 people with disabilities participated during the DUOday for the first time in Lithuania. 16 participants with disabilities have successfully established themselves in their favorite positions. The organizer of the DUOday in Lithuania is “SOPA“.


Initiative “Nobody’s Children” (Lith. “Niekieno vaikai”) – for the care shown and the help given to abandoned children. The initiative takes care of abandoned children in hospitals and gives them emotional support through the help of volunteers. In just one year the idea has grown from an initiative in one city to a national organization, covering 4 cities (Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai). Activities were conducted in 8 hospitals in total. Thanks to the volunteers, 226 children were not left alone in hospitals, and 200 trained volunteers provided emotional support to children in 2019.


The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson together with the National Equality and Diversity Forum have been organizing the Awards every year since 2014. This year the general sponsor of the Awards is Swedbank Lithuania. Sponsors – The Ministry of Social Security and Labour, Open Lithuania Foundation, British Council Lithuania, European Social Fund, Norwegian Embassy, Rimi Lithuania, Telia Lithuania. Organizing partner – Lithuanian Railways.

Birutė Sabatauskaitė

Birutė Sabatauskaitė

Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania

Curriculum Vitae