The European Union (EU) gender-equality acquis has been transposed into Croatian laws as part of the accession process to the EU. In anticipation of its becoming an EU member, the Republic of Croatia invested significant efforts in the promotion of gender equality through national policies aimed at improving the position of women, such as the creation of a Gender-Equality Commission as a government advisory body (1996–2004). The commission produced the first National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality by taking the Beijing Platform for Action as a starting point. In 2000, following an amendment to the constitution of the Republic of Croatia, gender equality was included among the highest values of the Croatian constitution. In 2001, the Committee for Gender Equality in the Croatian Parliament was established with the aim of mainstreaming gender equality in legislation, regulations and policies. A strong commitment to gender mainstreaming was contained in the government strategic document The Main Tasks of Bodies of State Administration in the Process of Accession to the EU, 2004–2007, which listed several activities to implement gender mainstreaming. In 2008, the most important law to promote gender equality in Croatia was adopted. Article 3 of the Gender Equality Act refers to gender mainstreaming, and stipulates that public bodies should – at all stages of the planning, adoption and implementation of legal acts, decisions and actions – assess their gender impact with a view to achieving genuine equality between women and men. Today, both the National Policy for Gender Equality 2011–2015 and the Gender Equality Act ensure the introduction of the equality principle in all aspects of national policy.
- Commissions for gender equality in the counties, towns and municipalities
The Government Office for Gender Equality was created in 2004 and its role was defined in the Gender Equality Act. It is a non-ministerial government agency that serves as an advisory body to the government and to those who execute specific tasks. Other departments or ministries consult the Government Office for Gender Equality when making new policy plans and evaluating policies (in policy fields other than gender equality).
In 2001, the Committee for Gender Equality in the Croatian Parliament was established for gender-mainstreaming purposes. Coordinators for gender equality within each state-administration body (ministries, county state-administration offices, state administrative organisations) have been appointed with specific gender-equality and gender-mainstreaming responsibilities.
In 2003, an independent body (Ombudsman for Gender Equality) was established, and since 2008 its extended mandate includes combating discrimination in the field of gender equality. In 2008, the Anti‑Discrimination Act established additional grounds for the realisation of equal opportunities, and since then the central independent body that monitors the implementation of equal opportunities has become the People’s Ombudsman, though special ombudsman offices, including the independent body for gender equality, also exist. As the head of a national equality body, the ombudsman/woman is responsible for promoting equality and reporting to parliament.
Commissions for Gender Equality have been established in all 20 counties and in the City of Zagreb and their normative position is regulated by the Gender Equality Act. They work as advisory bodies of county assemblies and the Assembly of the City of Zagreb. The Office for Gender Equality coordinates the work of county Commissions and organizes a regular annual Coordination of County Commissions for Gender Equality, in order to advance the implementation of the National policy for gender equality at the local level.
Laws and policies
In 1997, the government’s first National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality was adopted, taking the Beijing Platform for Action as a starting point. After several intervening policies, the current policy, the Fourth National Policy for Gender Equality (2011–2015), was adopted. It defines new national priorities and modes of implementation, taking into account progress achieved in terms of accomplishing gender equality and the challenges that remain. This policy includes seven particular activities and obliges the Republic of Croatia to incorporate the gender dimension into every area of politics.
In 2000, following an amendment to the constitution of the Republic of Croatia, gender equality was included among the highest values of the Croatian constitution.
The 2008 Gender Equality Act defines the basis for the protection and promotion of gender equality as a fundamental value of the Croatian constitution. It defines and regulates protection from gender-based discrimination and lays down the preconditions necessary to create equal opportunities for women and men.
Methods and tools
Clear gender-mainstreaming guidelines are still lacking and gender-mainstreaming methods are not systematically deployed, given that the Government Office for Gender Equality is understaffed and limited in its implementation of the tasks listed in the Gender Equality Act. However, since 2008, Office for Gender Equality holds training seminars on gender equality regularly three to four times a year for civil servants in public administration. Nearly 10% of all employed have been trained so far. Gender mainstreaming is essential part of the training. Starting from October 2015 all staff of the authorities involved in the management and control of the ESI Funds will be trained on EU gender equality law and policy as well as on gender mainstreaming. The plan covers nearly 1000 persons involved in the implementation of the ESI Funds (managing authorities, intermediate bodies, certifying authorities and audit authorities) at all relevant levels.