As a part of the centenary of Finland’s independence in 2017, the Embassy of Finland in Zagreb with the Croatian Governmental Office for Gender Equality and the Parliamentary Committee on Gender Equality have initiated a project called 100 Acts for Gender Equality in Croatia. President of the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, is the Patron of the campaign. The aim of the initiative is to collect 100 acts that enhance gender equality within the Croatian society.
“Gender equality is a core value of Finland and the reason behind Finland’s successful ascension from one of the poorest countries in Europe to a prosperous country with a place at the top of many social and economic rankings,” Ambassador Timo Rajakangas said, adding that everyone should ask themselves how they can contribute to making our societies better.
A panel discussion called “Gender equality is your business too” was held on this occasion, under the patronage of the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, and the discussion has brought together many distinct individuals and fighters for gender equality in Croatia and Finland. Kirsti Marttinen, Finnish Council for Gender Equality deputy secretary, and Hannele Varsa, twinning counselor in the Office for Gender Equality of the Croatian Government, spoke about their experiences and the challenges that the Finnish society has faced in achieving gender equality.
“Finland was the first in the world to extend the right to vote and stand for elections to women and men in 1906. Also, Finland is the first country to have introduced a mandatory electoral gender quota. Only by standing and working together can we make a change,” Ms. Varsa said. Ms. Marttinen pointed out that the progress in creating equality has been slow, even though relevant laws have been put in place.
As far as Croatia is concerned, Ms. Helena Štimac Radin, Office for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia director, said that the latest Report on equality between women and men in the EU has shown a decline in number of women in the Croatian Parliament – it is currently 19%, while the European average is 25-26%. Moreover, Croatia has had a high unemployment rate among women, while the gender wage gap is 11%. Ms. Štimac Radin pointed out that there are, of course, positive examples which should make Croatia proud as well. Women are still more educated than men, and 70% of the Croatian judiciary system is run by women. Moreover, Croatia is the first country to have adopted a separate Strategy on Women Entrepreneurship Development.
Ankica Mamić, owner of IMC Agency and one of the founders of Women 50+ also shared her experiences about women entrepreneurship: “It is a well-known fact that women are more educated than men, but managing positions are still in the hands of men. Unlike men, women don’t have time to socialize after work because of the many obligations they have at home, some of which I have experienced myself. That is precisely why women should be working for, not against each other.”
PwC Croatia is one of the organizations that have recognized the importance of the fight for gender equality in the workplace, and in society in general. John Gašparac, PwC CEO, pointed out that “gender equality is the crucial component of PwC’s DNA, proven by various programmes and actions that the company participates in on a daily basis.” As an ardent promoter of gender equality and inclusion, PwC has supported the UN’s He for She programme, the aim of which is to attract 1 billion men and boys to be the proponents of change in order to end the existing inequalities women and girls face every day. Also, in 2014, PwC launched Aspire to Lead: Women’s Leadership Series – a global forum on women and leadership for students around the globe. “The path to accomplishing equality is long, but it is not impossible to reach,” Mr. Gašparac said.
In December 2017, on the 100th Independence Day of Finland, the best acts supporting equal opportunities for women and men in Croatia will be awarded.