World Bank report: No significant progress in gender equality in Croatia


Croatia has made progress on including gender equality in its policies, but inequality is still present in the labour market, politics and business, as well as the status of minority women and women living in rural areas, said the World Bank report on gender equality in Croatia, published on Friday.

The largest gaps in Croatia exist in access to economic opportunities, which are affected by gaps in education, health, and care services, the report said, explaining that, since women must deal with strict gender roles and socio-economic constraints, they have a limited role in the work force, as well as fewer opportunities for entrepreneurship.

The average monthly salary for women in Croatia is about 88.7 percent of what men earn each month, which results in a larger pension gap later in life, the report said, adding that female poverty among elderly people is about 35 percent greater than male poverty in the same age group. Also, rural women fare the worst in terms of poverty, employment, education, and access to services, childcare, and elder care.

Even though women in Croatia do well in education, only 61 percent of active women have paid jobs compared to 71 percent of active men. The percentage of working women drops as they age.

Also, Croatia has one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurship in the EU, with only 7 percent of employed women in the age group of 35-39 being entrepreneurs, and only 12 percent of Croatian companies employing women in top-management positions. Only one in three Croatian companies are owned by women.

“There is an urgent need to encourage and accelerate the process of achieving real gender equality. Women still face barriers in employment, they are paid less for the same work, and they face discrimination based on pregnancy and maternity,” said Croatian Ombudswoman for gender equality Visnja Ljubicic, adding that women also carry a double burden of managing household, family, and business obligations, while being under-represented in the economic and political decision-making and predominantly represent victims of domestic and sexual violence.

“Society must overcome these and all other aspects of inequality which stem from deep-rooted and persistent stereotypes and prejudices,” she said.

Gender inequality also has an ethnic element, with women in Roma population – the most excluded minority group. Inequalities for Croatian Roma girls start early and intensify during their adult life, with only 6 percent of Roma women graduating from high school, the report said.

The report proposed a series of measures to battle inequality, such as investing in lifelong learning opportunities, improving livelihoods and income opportunities for the elderly, particularly elderly rural women, as well as encouraging entrepreneurial activities for women and exploring flexible hours arrangements.

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