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publication March 9, 2021

Effects of COVID-19 on Croatian Women


This World Bank report provides a preliminary assessment of the impacts on women caused by the pandemic. It finds that the pandemic has worsened existing gender gaps and made life harder for women in Croatia. This is especially heightened for women from vulnerable social groups, including lower-skilled, rural women, inactive women and elderly women.

Croatian Women and the COVID-19 Pandemic



The report identifies three key reasons the pandemic has impacted women differently.

Frontline jobs. Women are more likely to have jobs in sectors that were hardest hit by the pandemic and could not be done remotely, the hospitality and services sectors. Women are also over-represented in low-skilled, informal and part-time work, or in ‘invisible’ jobs such as unpaid care work or agricultural work for family businesses. As a result, women were more likely to experience income loss and found it financially more difficult to endure the pandemic-induced lockdown.

Selective access to social protection. Women who stay at home, work the land, or help in the family business are often ‘invisible’ and not covered by the social protection system. These ‘invisible’ women lack access to health insurance, sick leave, unemployment insurance, or a pension. Women were also less likely to be covered by the COVID-19 relief packages targeted at working adults.

Increased domestic burden. Women traditionally carry out caregiving roles and have faced an increased burden in the wake of school closures. Less-educated women were most strongly affected by the unequal division of domestic chores within families. Less-educated women, thus, face a set of mutually-reinforcing challenges: they are more likely to have lost jobs or income due to the pandemic, they are less likely to be covered by social protection or the COVID emergency measures and they shoulder the lion’s share of unpaid family work, which creates a real barrier to finding new work opportunities. 

The pandemic has also resulted in an increase in domestic violence, both in terms of severity and frequency. And, due to the lockdown, women have found it more difficult to report incidents of domestic violence and to receive support.

The report makes the case that a post-pandemic economic recovery in Croatia provides an important opportunity to address structural gender gaps in a systematic manner. In doing so, the country will benefit from unlocking the economic potential of Croatian women which will boost productivity and the national economy. For an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery, the policy emphasis should be on four priorities:

  • Providing active labor market services to the most vulnerable women and youth who are furthest from the labor market,
  • Removing barriers to women’s employability,
  • Improving entrepreneurial opportunities for youth/female self-employment and support to women and youth to start or re-start their businesses or business collectives; and
  • Preventing gender-based violence and strengthening support services for survivors of domestic violence.