Legislative and policy framework

The Croatian Constitution enshrined gender equality in a constitutional amendment in 2000 (Article 3). Gender equality is reinforced in Article 14 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on race, skin colour, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, education, social status, or any other characteristic.[1]

The European Union (EU) gender equality acquis has been transposed into Croatian law as part of its accession to the EU. In anticipation of becoming an EU Member State, the Republic of Croatia promoted gender equality through national policies to improve the position of women.

The Gender Equality Act (Zakon o ravnopravnosti spolova) was consolidated first in 2008, and again in 2017. It constitutes the legal framework for gender equality in Croatia and establishes the protection and promotion of gender equality as a fundamental value. Moreover, it also ensures the application of the equality principle in all aspects of national policy. Article 3 of the Act refers to gender mainstreaming and stipulates that public bodies should – at all stages of the planning, adoption and implementation stages of legal acts, decisions, and actions – assess their gender impact with a view to achieving genuine equality between women and men. However, the legal obligation to implement gender mainstreaming does not include attendant provisions for enforcement or sanctions.

The first National Policy for Gender Equality was developed and adopted for the period 2001-2005[2] and was in place until 2015[3]. At the time of data collection, before December 2021, no national action plan was implemented. A new policy has been under development for several years and plans remain for a National Policy for Gender Equality for 2022 to 2027, although one was not in place in December 2021. The National Policy will be implemented through a National Action Plan for the period of 2022 to 2024. It will be followed by a second national action plan for the period 2025-2027. Gender mainstreaming efforts are implemented through the National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2022-2024 and legal obligations to implement gender mainstreaming and for government staff to use gender-neutral language in their work. Croatia has several other policies to promote gender equality within a range of sectors.


Governmental equality bodies

The Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy has the highest level of responsibility concerning the promotion of gender equality in Croatia. Since 2004, the governmental gender equality body is the Office for Gender Equality, a government agency, which consults and supports various ministries with tasks related to gender equality impact and policies.

The Office for Gender Equality is responsible for providing an expert service to the government, a specialized office without legal personality within the government. It is responsible for the development of the National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality and for monitoring its implementation, as well as for oversight regarding compliance with laws and other regulations on gender equality in relation to international documents. It is also responsible for the preparation of national reports on the fulfilment of international standards.

The Office for Gender Equality has the obligation to submit annual written activity reports to the government by the end of each April regarding the previous year. The government has no reporting duties to the parliament on issues related to gender equality. There is a special parliamentary committee for gender equality, but there is no obligation for the governmental gender equality body to regularly report to this committee.

The Office for Gender Equality is composed of seven employees and has regional departments (Equal Opportunities Committees), organised at county, city, and municipal level, which are responsible for promoting and coordinating all activities concerning gender equality and the advancement of women in society. There are a further 21 Gender Equality Committees at regional level, which are local advisory bodies tasked with promoting gender equality and implementing the Law on Gender Equality and the National Gender Equality Policy. Local Government Units may also establish municipal Gender Equality Commissions. However, the Office for Gender Equality is rarely consulted on issues other than those strictly related to gender equality.[4]

Gender mainstreaming is coordinated through gender equality coordinators who are present in over 75 % of the ministries. They are officials appointed by the head of the public body (Gender Equality Act, Article 27(1)). Their tasks include coordination of the implementation of the Gender Equality Act and the national gender equality policy within the scope of competencies of that public body and cooperation with the Office for Gender Equality. In addition to the staff under the Office for Gender Equality, 26 staff members specifically support gender mainstreaming across all ministries.

Independent equality body

The Ombudsperson for Gender Equality was established in 2003 and is Croatia’s independent equality body. The Croatian Parliament, following a proposal by the government, makes appointments to the position (and dismissals). It conducts research, publishes, and disseminates gender equality related information and training. In addition to providing legal support for victims of discrimination and deciding on complaints of discrimination on the grounds of sex or gender, the Ombudsperson for Gender Equality integrates gender equality considerations in EU and international affairs, conducts gender-sensitive analysis of policies and legislation, and monitors progress in achieving gender equality.

This independent gender equality body currently employs 13 members of staff. The Ombudsperson for Gender Equality is consulted on occasion in the context of the promotion of gender equality by departments or ministries on new or existing policies, laws, or programmes. Consultation with the independent body in relation to gender equality issues leads to adjustments in 25 to 50 % of cases.[5]

Parliamentary body

The Gender Equality Committee of the Croatian Parliament is a working body of the parliament and was established in 2001.[6]  Its goal is to establish and monitor the implementation of policies. It has the status of a main working body in areas relating to the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the principle of equality between men and women in legislation. It is especially concerned with promoting the signing of international agreements on gender equality and monitoring the implementation of those agreements, drafting, implementation and analysis of the National Policy for Gender Equality. This committee also cooperates and establishes measures and activities for the promotion of gender equality, proposes programmes or measures for the elimination of gender discrimination and promotes balanced gender representation in working bodies and parliamentary delegations. In addition, the Gender Equality Committee of the Croatian Parliament establishes draft acts and other regulations in the field of gender equality and introduces the principle of gender equality in areas of education, health care, social policy, and employment, among others. The Committee is composed of a president, vice-president, 11 members who are MPs, and three external members who are representatives of civil society organisations, in addition to academic and professional institutions which are active in the promotion of gender equality and human rights.

Regional structure

Local and regional units of self-government have established gender equality committees, which oversee promoting, and monitoring gender equality issues at respective levels, in accordance with Article 28 of the Gender Equality Act (see section on governmental responsibilities).[7]

Consultation with civil society

The representatives of civil society organisations are regularly involved in governmental work on gender equality, in the following manner:[8]

Civil Society involvement

  • Represented on a legally established advisory body attached to the ministry responsible for gender equality.
  • Invited to participate in various kinds of temporary bodies, committees, commissions, working groups etc., developing policy proposals for the government or monitoring and/or assessing the status of various gender equality efforts.
  • Participating on a regular basis in consultations in the process of preparing gender equality reforms, e.g., legal reforms, national action plans on gender equality and reporting on the status of gender equality efforts.
  • Participating in meetings, hearings etc. on a regular basis on the government’s efforts and policies on gender equality.
  • Participating in conferences, seminars etc.
  • Receiving information, publications, etc.

The involvement of civil society representatives in working groups developing policy proposals and drafting laws and other regulations and measures is based on a non-binding code of public consultations in the procedures of adoption of laws, other regulations, and acts.

Methods and tools

Note: the methods and tools listed under this section were the focus of EIGE's 2021 assessment. If certain methods and tools are not mentioned in this section, this does not necessarily mean that they are not used at all by Croatia.

Gender impact assessment and gender budgeting

Ex-ante gender impact assessments are used when drafting laws, policies, programmes or plans, as required under Article 3(1) of the Gender Equality Act and Regulation on the Procedure for Regulatory Impact Assessment (Uredba o provedbi postupka procjene učinaka propisa), Official Gazette Narodne novine No. 52/2017.[9]

Evaluation as a method for gender mainstreaming is only implemented in EU funded projects, as this is a requirement under the programme funding. Similarly, gender budgeting is not used and there are currently no legal or policy obligations in place which require the implementation of such an approach. The Office for Gender Equality organises four seminars each year on gender equality for the public administration. In addition, the government agency regularly disseminates various printed materials and invites representatives of the ministries to public events it organises. Other gender mainstreaming activities of the agency include the development and dissemination of specific Gender Mainstreaming Manuals for politicians, members of the judiciary, gender equality coordinators, county and municipal gender equality commissions, and employees of the Office for Gender Equality in 2017, as part of a twinning project in cooperation with the Republic of Finland.[10]

Training and awareness-raising

In terms of gender equality training provisions, only employees of the gender equality governmental body receive training on an ad-hoc basis. Some employees from selected ministries or other public bodies receive regular training on equality, although such training is not mandatory at any level.

Under the Uniform Methodological-Nomotechnical rules for acts adopted by the Croatian Parliament, there is a legal obligation to use gender-neutral language in all acts, which are adopted by the Croatian Parliament.[11] For example, either the masculine or the feminine gender must be stated when referring to civil servants’ titles, when deciding on the rights and obligations of civil servants, as well as their assignment to specific posts.[12]

Gender statistics

According to Article 17 of the Gender Equality Act, all statistical data and information on persons collected, recorded, and processed by state authorities, local and regional self-government bodies, and legal and natural persons performing regulated activities must be reported by gender. These shall be made available to the public, in line with the regulations governing the protection of personal data and the provisions of a special law governing the area of official statistics. The Bureau does not have a specific section of its website dedicated to gender statistics.[13] There is some dissemination through the ‘Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Croatia’ (the main report of the Bureau), which regularly publishes all data as gender-disaggregated, which can be viewed and downloaded online.[14] The Croatian Bureau of Statistics also makes relevant publications and online analyses of gender statistics available to the public. For example, the Bureau has prepared the annual Women and Men in Croatia reports since 2008[15], which is disseminated via email and as a printed publication. Part of the data are also taken from other institutions, such as the Croatian National Institute of Public Health and the Croatian Employment Service.

Monitoring progress

Indicators for monitoring progress on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the EU, under Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action

This section analyses the scores achieved by Croatia for data collection in 2021 for the four officially agreed-on indicators on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming to monitor progress on Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action. It also analyses scores under an expanded measurement framework, which includes the role of independent gender equality bodies and assesses the effectiveness of efforts to disseminate statistics disaggregated by sex. Institutional mechanisms refer to national machineries that implement, monitor, evaluate, and mobilise support for policies that promote gender equality and gender mainstreaming. All indicators and sub-indicators are available on the Gender Statistics Database here, including metadata about how the scores are calculated.

For Indicator H1 on the status of commitment to the promotion of gender equality and considering only the governmental commitment in line with the officially adopted indicator, Croatia scored 6.0 out of a possible 12, below the EU average of 7.2. It scored particularly low on sub-indicator H1e on accountability of the governmental gender equality body, where it lost 4.0 points out of a maximum possible score of 5, because it did not have a national action plan in place as of 31 December 2021.

Under an expanded measurement framework, which includes sub-indicator H1f on the mandate and functions of the independent gender equality body, Croatia scored the maximum of 3 points because it has an independent gender equality body, which focuses exclusively on gender equality and carries out all relevant functions. The overall score for the expanded H1 indicator was 9.0 out of a possible 15, just below the EU average of 9.1.

Indicator H2 analyses the personnel resources of the national gender equality bodies. For sub-indicator H2a, regarding the governmental body, Croatia scored 0.5 out of a maximum score of 2 which was lower than the EU average of 1.0, because there were 5-10 employees working on gender equality in the governmental body. For sub-indicator H2b, regarding the independent body, Croatia’s score was higher, receiving 1.0 point, against a lower EU average of 0.8, because there were 10-25 employees in the independent body working on gender equality. For both sub-indicators, the maximum 2 points was awarded where the number of employees was over 100 as an indication of the body being sufficiently resourced.

Indicator H3 relates to gender mainstreaming. Here, Croatia scored 5.5 points out of the maximum possible 12, which was above the EU average of 5.1. Croatia scored 1.5 points on the sub-indicator H3b on governmental gender mainstreaming structures and consultation processes, out of a maximum possible score of 4, because the governmental body for the promotion of gender equality is never consulted about the gender impact of new or existing policies, laws, or programmes (in policy fields other than gender equality).

Under an expanded measurement framework, which includes sub-indicator H3d on consultation of the independent equality body, Croatia scored 5.5. points out of a possible 14, which was also below the EU average which increased to 5.4. Under this sub-indicator Croatia lost both available points because the independent gender equality body is only consulted by departments or ministries on the gender impact of new or existing policies in some cases, and those consultations, similarly, only lead to relevant adjustments in some cases.

For Indicator H4 on the production and dissemination of statistics disaggregated by sex, Croatia scored 3.0 points, just below the EU average of 3.4, because it has a legal obligation to collect statistics disaggregated by sex but there is no website to disseminate them.