Govor stalnog predstavnika RH pri Ujedinjenim narodima, veleposlanika Vladimira Drobnjaka, na 2. panelu Foruma dionika UN Women koji se održao u sklopu priprema za 58. zasjedanje Komisije o statusu žena

New York, 04. prosinca 2013.

Panel 2:  Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment through a comprehensive approach grounded in the i) Beijing Platform for Action, the ii) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the vision of the iii) Millennium Declaration– lessons learned

First of all, allow me to thank the UN Women for convening this important Forum in the preparation of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. I appreciate the opportunity to address the Forum on behalf of Croatia.
Regarding the advancement of women, Croatia strongly supports the work of the CSW as the principal political forum for exchange of good practices and setting the recommendations for the way forward on this pivotal matter.

I will try to contribute to this event by sharing some lessons Croatia has learned in implementing its gender equality and women’s empowerment policy. The inequality between men and women is seen in Croatia as a violation of fundamental human rights. To the same token, protection and promotion of the basic rights of women and girls and combating gender discrimination and gender-based violence, belong to the national priorities in the human rights area on both national and international levels.

In July 2011 Croatian Parliament has adopted The National Policy for Gender Equality – a strategic document whose purpose is the elimination of discrimination against women and establishment of true gender equality. At the core of this strategy is a policy of equal opportunities for the period 2011 – 2015. Our national policy is based upon relevant national legislation, primarily the Gender Equality Act, as well as on the various gender equality guarantees which are an integral part of international law and the European Union community law (acquis).

It binds Croatia to integrate the gender dimension in all policy areas by implementing special measures with regard to the following seven key fields of action: 1) the promotion of the human rights of women and gender equality; 2) the creation of equal opportunities in the labour market; 3) the improvement of gender sensitive education; 4) the balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making processes; 5) the elimination of all forms of violence against women; 6) the promotion of international cooperation and gender equality outside Croatia; and 7) the further strengthening of institutional mechanisms and implementation methods.

Croatia, like many other countries, is faced with continuous challenges concerning the gap between the de facto and the de jure equality. Elimination of structural foundations for the inequality of power between men and women in various areas of society is of particular importance.

More work is required in order to balance the unequal status of women in the labour market and their unfavourable position in the working field. More effort is needed to combat women’s under-representation in the process of political and public decision-making. Equally vital is the complete elimination of various forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, and the persistence of gender stereotypes.

One of the most important goals in achieving full gender equality in Croatia is improvement of the status of women in the labour market. This can be achieved by addressing the difficulties they face in employment, balancing their salaries with those of men, as well being aware of the various forms of discrimination in recruitment and in career promotion.

Some progress has been made in the area of the political participation of women, although women still remain under-represented in public and political decision-making processes, in representative and executive power. One of the areas where this is not the case is Croatian judiciary.

The Gender Equality Act (2008) has introduced quotas in the Croatian legislation and the obligation was prescribed for political parties and other bodies authorised to propose candidates to include a minimum of 40% of the under-represented gender in electoral lists at all levels of elections. Within the current government we have two deputy prime ministers (out of four)  and number of female ministers (including MFA), but the overall number of women in executive power is still underrepresented.

Women play important part in Croatian Civil Service – it is worth mentioning that in the EU Accession process (the most important and demanding project) women represented more than half of the Negotiating team that brought this historical endeavour to its successful outcome.

Croatia, just like other European countries, has been recording a continually growing trend in the education of women. Although women in Croatia constitute a majority of the university graduates, they continue to be under-represented in IT studies (15%), engineering (27%), architecture and construction (37%), whereas men are highly underrepresented in the field of education (8.1%).

The gender stereotypes and the gender-based violence are the main obstacle to the full participation of women in all areas of social life worldwide. Croatia puts special emphasis on the measures for combating all forms of prejudice and violence against women, with particular focus on the elimination of prejudice against women victims of all forms of violence. Non-reporting of violence is one of the key problems, since it affects not only the social perception of the widespread occurrence of the problem, but also the work of all competent bodies and institutions.

This is also indicated by the fact that sexual violence is one of the least reported crimes, because of the social stigma usually attached to the victims. Croatian NGOs play very active and far-reaching role in combating this problem.

As a member of the group of global champions of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, Croatia will spare no efforts to take a more prominent role in preventing and combating sexual violence in war and conflicts. Based on our own tragic experiences of the aggression on Croatia in the 1990s, during which rape was used as a method of intimidation and terror, we are convinced that the issue of sexual violence in conflicts can be adequately addressed only through a comprehensive approach.

Croatian Government is currently preparing a comprehensive legislation by which the survivors of sexual violence from the 1990s will be entitled to the status of "civilian victims of war". The new law will provide psychosocial support and other assistance to survivors, including assistance in the prosecution of cases of wartime rape. It will also encourage victims who remain silent to come forward for justice, offering them recognition and compensation. In our view, victims’ rights and access to reparations is one of the most gender-responsive transitional justice measures.

We have still a lot of work to do to reach the ambitious goal of full and equal participation of women at global level. While it is widely recognized that securing gender equality is among basic principles in the respect for human rights, and the key imperative for overall economic and political development and progress, women are still underrepresented and sometimes even marginalized in most of the countries.

Croatia welcomes the on-going debate on how the post-2015 development framework can ensure effective progress towards gender equality. The cornerstone of our approach should be based on moving from purely quantitative goals to broader gender mainstreaming perspective, which includes the elaboration of measurable targets and indicators for empowering women and girls. In this context, let me emphasize the importance of the specific gender indicator aiming at targeting public expenses by tracing and making public allocations for gender equality.

However, we must be conscious of the fact that even when the political will is clear – as is the case in Croatia - it remains a challenge to clearly define gender equality objectives and mainstream them in the policies of all governmental departments.

In conclusion, let me reiterate the need to jointly, nationally and within the UN system, address the outstanding issues impeding the advancement of women’s rights, particularly violence against women, their political participation and economic empowerment, as well as their access to education. In this regard, we should all continue to improve our records at home in order to gain legitimacy for addressing the issue globally and help those who are lagging behind.

Let us therefore intensify our political battle and keep the momentum of marking the 15th anniversary of the Millennium Declaration and 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to accelerate our efforts in creating the environment free of violence for women and girls, the environment of truly equal opportunities for all.

Thank you.


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