• Leon Schmidt

What do we have to say about gender equality?

Aktualisiert: 25. Feb. 2020

According to the UN-Women, “the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the principal international body for discussion on gender equality, empowerment of women and women’s rights”. The UN-Women also traces the establishment of the CSW in 1946, as a consequence after the UN started to address gender equality through the Commission on Human Rights. The commission consists of 45 Member States with seats allocated according to proportional geographical distribution and elected for four-year terms and the Chair and 4 Vice Chair rotate without specific geographical regulations being elected for two-year terms. The CSW discusses numerous topics and elaborates a multi-year program of work ever since 1987. In 2020, it plans to review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly and its contribution in regards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Estonia is an active observer member of the UN-Women council which also supported the creation of the UN-Woman agency. From 2011 to 2015 Estonia was a first time member of the CSW where they had the Minister of the Foreign Affairs as the leader of the delegation. The country is an advocate of women’s rights working primarily through the UN and also to many other international organizations. The focus is on the political empowerment of women, inclusion of women into conflict resolution, reduction of violence against women, protection of sexual and reproductive rights and LGBT community.

The CSW has 3 topics under discussion:

I. Empowering Women through Entrepreneurship

Some of the challenges presented by the UN-Women around this topic are that presently, there is a significant higher number of women in entrepreneurship than in the previous years; women have considerable lower wages and fewer employment opportunities than men and it is estimated that it will take more than 170 years to close economic gender gap worldwide. Therefore, the Nations must find solutions in order to inspire women into formal economic sector and emphasize advantages of women creating their own micro and small enterprises since it can be an alternative for them to be in the market and able to provide for themselves and their families. A recommendation is that the UN, Member States and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) address informal economy and encourages an increase of entrepreneurial possibilities for rural areas. Furthermore, there must be proposals for terminating economic and financial gap among genders.

This topic occupies a prominent place in Estonia’s domestic and international agenda, where the principle of equality underlies on legislation and policies implementation. The country works with actions in the educational and employment field where they focus on promoting the awareness of gender equality through campaigns in schools, among young people and job seekers, with the intention to eliminate stereotypes. In Estonia, women’s entrepreneurs represent 28% of which 72% of these women are sole entrepreneurs. There is no policy in place to foster women entrepreneurship yet, but there are a number of initiatives, training and programs dedicated for women and girls in Estonia, all sponsored by non-governmental women’s organization. One example of these initiatives is the self-empowerment training for school age girls introducing equal access to education, training, science and technology to form a mind-set and end labels at young age. Estonia has a relatively high number of women in the education sector and among university graduates (around 70%), although unfortunately there is still a considerable gender pay gap in the country.

In 2014 the Ministry of Estonia kicked off a plan aiming the growth of entrepreneurship in the country that is planned to last until end of year 2020. Then in June 2016, the country executed the Welfare Development Plan that will proceed for the following years until 2023. The plan consists of measures varying from awareness promotion to legislative initiatives which are expected to reduce gender pay gap by targeting gender equality, tackling issues of equal economic independence of women and men, and balanced participation, negative impact of gender stereotypes, rights protection and institutional capacity.

II. Promoting the Involvement of Women in Political Participation

It is crucial that women are inserted in political participation in order to widen democracy throughout the countries hence it is proved that diversity complements, broadening the view and providing enhanced solutions. This topic discusses the promotion of gender equality in policy and practice, which is furthermore recommended and expected by eliminating the barriers that prevent women from full and equal participation in political life. CSW and UN-Women support several initiatives to promote involvement of women in political environments, for instance the Implementation of BPfA and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and work prioritizing actions to achieve balanced political participation of women to guarantee gender equality.

Estonia is above world average in terms of seats held by women in the parliament. The presence of women in the parliament has increased since 2014 when they had 19% of women in the seats. In 2019 almost 30% of the positions were held by women. With 54% of women participation in party memberships, Estonia leads the rankings, although not yet influential enough to have an effect on parties, policies, electoral lists formation and at the end also on election outcomes or in decision making process. It is also possible to predict intensification, if not dominance in women participation in Estonian political parties, considering demographical aspect such as longer life expectancy or the growing numbers of women among university graduates, creating opportunities to political and leadership roles. There is currently no effective plan in place to close the gender gap in politics. Some European countries have adopted two methods, suggested by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) – quotas and zipping which would allow for the improvement of women’s representation in politics, methods being considered by the country.

III. Protecting Women in Migration from Human Trafficking, Sexual Slavery, and Sexual Exploitation

It is proven that human trafficking is a horrible crime that impacts both genders, but globally women account for approximately 71% of the victims according to UN-Women researches. It has increased with the intensification of migration trends and women end up misled by criminal organization that benefit financially from these victims while abusing and preventing them from having alternatives. Actions from international organizations and government to implement measures set by UN Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol are expected as much as mechanisms for prevention of trafficking of migrants, especially girls and women. The Nations ought to guarantee protection of identified and rescued victims and the prosecution and conviction of traffickers, sexual slavers and exploiters.

Recently, Estonia has become a destination for human trafficking where most of the victims come from countries nearby such as Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova. Estonia is positioned absolutely against all kinds of gender-based violence therefore they work close to international organizations such as the Human Rights Council to develop the law-making process and humanitarian aids to help in the reduction and prevention of such crimes and human trafficking. The country has already actions in plan such as: raise awareness through several campaigns, more efficient border control system, and biometric passport. They also have actions to support victims like assistance to their physical, psychological and social recovery, beyond protection, safety, accommodation and health service for unlimited period agreed by law – until they need it. Due to all the efforts to extinguish this crime, in 2018 Estonia received the highest grade in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which takes the country one step closer to preventing and extinguishing such terrifying crimes.

Author: Adriana Márcia Vaz Porto

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