Meet Diana Topcic Rosenberg from Croatia

From public policy to politics in Croatia: an impossible mission?
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What do you do if you decide to come back home after a decade of circumventing the globe, designing and delivering public policies, only to find a society that is much more conservative and less inclined to follow meritocratic principles than the one that you left at the end of the 1990s? If you are a public policy expert and a relentless civic activist alike Diana Topcic-Rosenberg, you join a newly formed liberal party and start a quest to normalise Croatian politics from scratch.

Diana Topcic-Rosenberg
© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

This is, in brief, the story of Topcic-Rosenberg’s entrance into politics that started four years ago, when she joined the Civic Liberal Alliance of Croatia, known better by its abbreviation, GLAS. She came back to her Adriatic homeland after earning a Public Administration Master’s degree from Harvard University and a twenty-year career in the field of international development, with organizations such as the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps. But she was not satisfied with what she encountered.

“I think that, over a period of time, women were pushed to the margins of public and political life and there has been an attempt to redefine our role solely as mothers, as family caretakers,” she says. In a way, she has seen her role in politics to be one of the antidotes to these developments. “This is where we, as liberals, and particularly as females, should be going creating space for women to be equal to men in all aspects of society.” 

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Topcic-Rosenberg’s own primary cause since she came back to Croatia has been child’s rights, in particular – adoption. She found ADOPTA, the Organization for the Support to Adoption, that grew into a think-tank about adoption with a strong professional and advocacy influence, even outside the country. She created the organization after over 20 years of experience of project management in the humanitarian and public policy sector that brought her to disaster-stricken countries, from the former Yugoslavia to Central America and Africa.

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“Working in some of these countries had taught me humility, I realized how privileged my upbringing and life had been. It really filled me with awe of the people I met, people who have done amazing things despite the horrors that they have lived through,” she says.

In contrast to these humbling experiences, her life back in Croatia made Topcic-Rosenberg indignant about the prevailing attitudes of her compatriots regarding her country’s place in the world. “When I came back to Croatia, there were a few things I was struck by. One of them was how insulated we are as a country and how preoccupied we are with the past”.

For her, the most potent way to fight stereotypes and discrimination that women face is to get more female faces in positions of authority.

 “A way to fight that is to have more women in public life who pave the way for other women to follow them. Ehen we, as women, have a (political) opportunity, we need to achieve visible change so that other women don't get discouraged. When addressing discrimination, we should be more open about the challenges we face and, as women in politics and public life, be more supportive of other women who are coming along. Achieving change is not a battle for one woman or one term, it is a vision to be shared and supported by many voices” Topcic-Rosenberg concludes.

Diana Topcic-Rosenberg has been campaigning for social and political change in various roles. She was a high-ranking official in the Government of Croatia in charge of the Department for Strategy and Social Policy at the Ministry for Social Policy and Youth, a civil activist for the rights of children in the social welfare system and a member of policy-making committees. She served as a Vice President of GLAS (07/2017-05/2020), a liberal party of Croatia. Currently, she is a member of ALDE Alliance of Her Advisory Committee and a social policy and public administration consultant.


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