GENDER EQUALITY STRUGGLE IN CROATIA: POTENTIALS AND CONSTRAINTS IN DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESSES
In the last few decades, the importance of civil society has been resurrected, both as a theoretical concept linked to democracy as well as a social practice. Even though civil society implies different definitions in the course of history, in contemporary sociopolitical systems of the West, it is defined as a part of the institutional framework of the democratic constitutional state. This type of institutionalized civil society started to develop in Croatia with the abrupt structural changes that occurred in the last two and a half decades in southeast Europe after the fall of socialism - a process in which feminist civil society organizations (CSOs) played an important role. They were the main actors to introduce favorable social changes for gender equality. However, a contemporary assessment of gender equality shows that institutional change and the implementation of mechanisms for gender mainstreaming have proven to be insufficient. In addition to the lack of implementation of the policies and legal framework, the traditionalization trend in Croatia has intensified in the last few years. These negative trends can be tied to broader neoliberal tendencies that have swept across the West in the last few decades: the retreat of the welfare state and cuts in the public sector, the crises of representative democracy, economic crisis and commodification of all social domains. In this context, feminist CSOs seem to be between a rock - the regressive local context, and a hard place - the neoliberal hegemony on a global scale.
Keywords: civil society, civil society organizations, state, gender equality, Croatia
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