Women’s Rights in CroatiaCroatia, a country in the Northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula, has witnessed significant progress in the realm of women’s rights. Despite its smaller size compared to other European countries, the rights of all citizens in Croatia are of utmost importance. However, the matter of women’s rights in Croatia is a complex and evolving one.

Socio-Economic Status

Gender roles in Croatia remain strict, with women having to deal with all kinds of expectations from an early age. A woman is typically assigned the role of housewife and caretaker, while the expectations for a man involve fulfilling the role of a breadwinner. Even if a woman holds a full-time job, she still has to manage the challenges and traditional responsibilities of motherhood.

Women in Croatia gained the right to vote in 1881, but this right was abolished 14 years later. However, in 1945, women in Croatia once again regained the right to vote.

Despite progress in many areas, literacy remains a challenge for women worldwide. In Croatia, the literacy rate for women stands at 98.1%, a figure that has remained relatively stable since 1991. Since that time, more than 99% of the female population in Croatia has possessed some level of literacy skills.

Violence Against Women

Croatia has made progress in addressing sexual and physical violence. According to U.N. Women, approximately 4% of Croatian women aged 15 to 49 have reported experiencing such violence from their partners. The country has implemented laws against domestic violence, and the police are mandated to respond to reported cases. In compliance with the law, the police are obligated to protect the victim, detain or remove the perpetrator, and inform the attorney’s office. These measures aim to ensure the safety and support of survivors of domestic violence in Croatia.

Employment and the Pay Gap

Women in Croatia experience significant gender-based wage disparities, with an average salary that is 13.3% lower than that of men, as well as 22.3% lower pensions, as reported by Expat in Croatia. Discrimination against pregnant women further compounds the issue, leading to lower job positions and a lack of pay raises.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women in Croatia, reflecting a global trend. A survey conducted by the World Bank revealed that 76% of women were primarily responsible for household chores and homeschooling during the pandemic.

The Croatian Bureau of Statistics indicates that 23.7% of Croatian girls between the ages of 12-17 are at risk of poverty. Such circumstances can result in unequal opportunities, particularly in accessing education and other resources.

Making a Change

An annual initiative called “Milijarda ustaje protiv nasilja nad ženama i djevojčicama (A billion people stand up against violence against women and girls)” aims to address issues such as poverty and discrimination against women in Croatia, as reported by Expat in Croatia.

According to a World Bank report, women in Croatia face underrepresentation in government and national politics, with only 18% of parliamentary seats occupied by women in 2017. Increased representation is crucial for women to have a voice in Croatia and to work toward a more equitable future.

The Women Entrepreneurs’ Loan Program aims to reduce the gender pay gap by providing loans specifically to female entrepreneurs in Croatia. This program involves collaboration with 22 national banks, offering women greater opportunities to establish and run their own businesses. As of June 2014, the program had approved 261 projects, opening up numerous possibilities for women in Croatia.

While there are still a few challenges affecting women’s rights in Croatia, the Croatian government has taken some steps to support women. Croatia has made significant progress in providing women with greater rights and opportunities, and this spurs hope for a more bias-free future.

– Abigail Lee Dicarlo
Photo: Unsplash