Even though the Croatian society has made progress in raising awareness of gender inequality and improving the relevant laws, gender-based inequality still persists in the country, from inequality in the labour market to domestic violence, with 13 women having been killed due to gender-based violence in 2022.
Over the last 20 years, a comprehensive legislative, strategic, and institutional framework for the protection and promotion of gender equality in Croatia has been developed, said Croatia’s gender equality ombudswoman Visnja Ljubicic, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. She added that the framework is being additionally upgraded.
It is however essential to properly implement and comply with those regulations and to understand the causes of discrimination as well as to conduct permanent education of those in charge of implementing the relevant laws and regulations, she said.
The Gender Equality Index, a tool to measure the progress of gender equality in the EU developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), shows that Croatia registered moderate and continuous progress from 2013 to 2022. Last year, it ranked 19th among the 27 EU members while in 2013, when it joined the Union, it ranked 25th.
So far, Croatia has made improvements from year to year, although this headway has been very modest, Ljubicic has told the Croatian state news agency Hina, noting that Croatia regularly ranks significantly below the EU average in terms of gender equality.
Statistical data and results show that women and men do not enjoy equal rights and opportunities in all areas of life, and gender discrimination is still widespread, as evidenced by frequent gender-based violence and many stereotypes and prejudices, Ljubicic said.
Two in three discrimination complaints filed by women
She said that two-thirds of complaints received by her office are filed by women who appeal against discrimination based on gender, their status as mothers, and their family status.
Femicide and inequality on the labour market were major topics in 2022, alongside sexism and sexual harassment, as well as problems concerning the status of female migrants, notably in light of the Ukraine war, she added.
Commenting on violence against women perpetrated by their partners, former partners or family members, Ljubicic said that the system actually discourages women from reporting domestic violence until it escalates into a criminal offence, warning in that context that in 2022, 13 women were killed by persons close to them.
Ljubicic called for the establishment of an efficient early prevention system.
Inequalities on labour market
In 2022, there was a mild rise in the share of employed women in the active population. Nevertheless, women still make up a majority of those out of work, Ljubicic said.
The challenge of glass ceiling makes women underrepresented in top and managerial positions and they are not offered equal opportunities for getting promoted in the workplace and have, she said, noting that women coming from ethnic minorities, elderly women, and women living in rural regions are particularly exposed to discrimination.
Gender pay gap
In 2020, the gender pay gap in the EU was down to 13%.
The unadjusted gender pay gap varied among EU member states, with the highest differences observed in Latvia (22.3%), Estonia (21.1%), Austria (18.9%) and Germany (18.3%), according to data provided by Eurostat.
On the other end of the scale, the differences were smallest in Luxembourg (0.7%), Romania (2.4%), Slovenia (3.1%), and Italy (4.2%).
This imbalance shows the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and women expressed as a percentage of the average gross hourly earnings of men. This indicator is calculated for enterprises with 10 or more employees, and measured this way, Croatia has a gap of 11.2%, just as Sweden, for instance.
The difference in pay was smallest for workers in the youngest age group, and the gap is getting wider over the years, especially after women go on maternity leave.
Also, the gap in salaries is wider in the private sector than in the public sector in all the EU member-states.
One of the reasons for that is that in the public sector there is a transparent system of job complexity indices and coefficients equally applicable to male and female workers.
For instance, the imbalance in pay in the private sector varies from 8.5% in Belgium to 22.6% in Germany, and in the public sector, the gender pay gap is lowest in Poland (0.6%) and highest in Latvia (18.4%).
In Croatia, when it comes to gross earnings, the gap is 12.4% and it widens to 15.6% in the private sector.
In general, in 2021 the average take-home monthly pay for men in Croatia was €1,016 (7,358 kuna) and for women €911 (6,861 kuna), a pay gap of 7%.
Croatia fares better than EU when it comes to women’s share in science
Concerning the share of women with doctoral degrees, in Croatia they are in the majority, with 54.1% of all holders of doctoral degrees.
In 2021, there were 6.9 million female scientists and engineers in the EU, 369,800 more than in 2020, accounting for 41% of total employment in science and engineering.
A third of lawmakers in EU national parliaments are women, a quarter of Croatian gov’t are women
In the national legislatures of the Union’s member-states, women make up a third of MPs, and Croatia is in the middle of the EU ranking. In the incumbent Andrej Plenkovic cabinet, women hold 24% of ministerial positions, whereas in the previous government they had a 19% share.
In Croatia, the average age of death is 79 years for women. The 2021 census shows that they account for 51.8% of the total population.
The average age of Croatian women at first birth today is 29.6 as against 22.6 in 1971.
Women across Europe are leaving the family home earlier than men. However, in Croatia they leave their parents at the average age of 31.8 years. Only in Portugal women stay longer with their parents, until they are 32.7 years old.
On the other hand, in Sweden, girls leave the family home at the age of 18.8.