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Women’s rights, women empowerment and gender equality


  • Women’s rights, gender equality, and the empowerment of women are some of the main priorities of  Estonia’s foreign policy. We consider the global implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and its platform for action, and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (ICPD) to be very important. We believe that one of the most important guarantees for the world’s sustainable development and the expansion of the influence of democracy and rule of law is mainstreaming gender equality to all areas of life.
  • Estonia is an active advocate of women’s rights in the international arena. In our international cooperation, we focus on the political empowerment of women, inclusion of women into conflict resolution (based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325) and reducing violence, incl. sexual violence, against women. We also pay attention to protecting LGBT and sexual and reproductive rights. In promoting women’s rights, we work primarily through the UN and other international organisations of the kind – Estonia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council (2013-15) and the UN Commission on the Status of Women (2012-15). The creation of The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) in the year 2010 has been an important step in improving the situation of women in the world.
  • Gender equality is a question of human rights, public good and democracy. Estonia supports the development of  international norms that help assure  fair treatment of people and create equal opportunities for both women and men to take part in all areas of the society, primarily  in decision-making and in the formation of policies  on all levels. We help to increase awareness of gender equality in the world, establishing the rule of law and reducing stereotypes via the UN and other international organisations. We consider it important that UN-Women would play the leading role in promoting gender equality and women’s rights in the world.
  • Estonia condemns any kind of gender-based violence which results, or is likely to result, in the  occurrence of physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering. We contribute towards the law-making process of international organisations, incl. the Human Rights Council, aimed at reducing and preventing violence against women, incl. sexual- and gender based violence. We support activities of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and her goal to end sexual violence as a military tactic in the world. In order to fulfil these goals, Estonia also contributes through development and humanitarian aid.

The Beijing Platform for Action

The Beijing Platform for Action was adopted at  the Fourth World Conference on Women taking place in 1995 in Beijing. It is an international agreement for protecting the rights of women and women’s active participation in the public and private spheres. The Beijing platform focuses on 12 areas which are critical for  achieving women’s rights and gender equality: poverty, education, healthcare, political and decision-making power, human rights, media, armed conflicts, institutions, environment, violence against women and girls.

The International Programme on Population and Development and Agenda

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo in 1994, adopted a 20-year programme which was the first to connect human rights with population dynamics and economic development. It is the first wide-scale international treaty that clearly acknowledges that the right marry or not to marry, create a family, decide the number and timing of children, , and receive information on family planning, are human rights. According to the United Nations Population Fund, 215 million women in developing countries do not have access to efficient means of family planning nor the possibility to enforce their reproductive rights.  The UN member states have decided to extend the programme from the year 2014 onwards.

Last updated: 6 May 2014

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