Even though gender roles have been changing in Western society in recent decades, they remain heavily in play in the Balkans. Generally, gender roles are deemed as roles that society assigns to men and women based on their gender therefore creating an influence on relationships between men and women. For example, it used to be expected that men would support the women, while they stay at home to raise a family, cook and clean. Today, traditional roles are virtually non-existent in Western society, predominantly due to more sharing of family and household responsibilities, and both males and females working in less traditional careers such as females becoming firefighters and males becoming nurses.
One thing that continues to be much the same in the Balkans is the “traditional” role of women – something that was very big during the 20th century. Women being the typical housewife: cleaning, cooking and bearing children.
We came across a survey conducted among 1500 men and 505 women showing that 36 per cent of Croatian men still believe that the most important role of women is housekeeping and cooking for her family, and one fifth of male respondents believe that it is the men who should have a final say in decision making at home, while one third of those polled believe that gender equality “has gone too far.”
The average respondents aged between 18 and 68 years.
Without trying to sound like we’re painting everyone with the same paint brush, but it would be fair to assume that this mentality not only exists in Croatia, but rather it’s something likely welcomed in other Balkan regions. There is still a prevailing opinion that promoting gender equality is a topic for women only, concerning them alone and that it has no social significance. It’s likely that a high percentage of men still embrace patriarchal attitudes, which hinder efforts to reach gender equality. However, some of the recent studies show that every one in two men generally support gender equality.
Other studies, predominantly in Western society, have shown that men advocating gender equality are less prone to violence and they participate more in household chores and take more care of children. They are also less inclined to hold homophobic attitudes.
The findings of the study were organized by the Status:M youth association and the Education and Teacher Training Agency, with the support of Care International, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the City of Zagreb.