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Tackling Systemic Gender Inequality Can Unlock Croatia's Potential

ZAGREB, July 2, 2024 – A new World Bank analysis presented today shows that Croatia remains among the lowest-ranked EU countries for overall gender parity even though the adoption of European Union (EU) standards in gender equality have brought about important policy changes and advancements. Croatia Gender Landscape 2024 indicates that more work is needed to fully address the deeper, systemic issues of gender equality in Croatia, which perpetuate significant gender gaps across six areas: work, money, knowledge, time, power and health.

The analysis notes that Croatia’s journey towards gender parity has been marked with some progress, especially on the significant human capital Croatian women have built over time. However, these efforts have not fully translated into positive labor-market outcomes, income generation opportunities, or decision-making power.

For example, Croatian girls outperform boys in education, but these successes do not fully carry over into their careers. Despite strong academic achievements, women continue to face a persistent gender gap in employment rates, particularly among those of childbearing age. They earn less income than men, with the wage gap showing signs of widening over time. In Croatia, women spend nearly 20 hours more than men on unpaid work, making the country a clear outlier among EU member states. While women have made some strides in political representation, their presence in high-level economic roles remains low.

“Women represent half of Croatia’s population but the current lack of economic opportunities and flexible work arrangements, as well as social norms and stereotypes, are preventing them from reaching their full economic, political, and social potential”, said Nga Thi Viet Nguyen, World Bank Senior Economist for Poverty and Equity and lead author of the report. “The right policy mix can substantially advance gender equality in Croatia, bringing more robust and inclusive economic growth and multiple benefits for the whole society.”

The analysis outlines five policy recommendations to promote gender parity:

  • Expanding affordable and high-quality child and elderly care services would reduce the caregiving burden on women. This would allow women to be more active on the labor market.
  • Flexible work arrangements, including working hours and part-time work would support all parents, but especially women during childbearing years. Upgraded parental leave policies could incentivize shared parenting responsibilities and reduce career interruptions for women.
  • Targeted public awareness campaigns to challenge gender stereotypes would promote the value of diversity and inclusion in all spheres of society.
  • Enforcement of equal pay legislation as well as the promotion of programs and incentives for companies to promote women into leadership and high-power positions would support women’s career advancement.
  • Strengthening Croatia’s legal framework would enhance existing protections against discrimination, harassment, and any form of gender-based violence. 

The event gathered representatives from the private sector, think tanks, academia, and civil society, who participated in the discussions.

About the World Bank in Croatia

The World Bank has been a partner to Croatia over 30 years. During this period, the Bank has supported more than 50 projects, totaling almost $5 billion and provided knowledge and technical assistance to help strengthen institutions and support policymaking through more than 330 reports and studies.

The World Bank currently provides knowledge, technical assistance and financing in the areas of, digital transformation and the green transition of the economy, justice service delivery, education, business environment, land administration, science and technology, post-earthquake reconstruction of key health and education facilities, social policy, deinstitutionalization, pension system modernization, long-term care, and public administration.



Vanja Frajtić
+385 (0)91 2357 230
Amy Stilwell
+1 202 458 4906


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