Honoured Chair, Excellences, distinguished
members of delegations and civil society, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Estonia aligns itself with the statement made on
behalf of the European Union and would like to offer some additional remarks in
our national capacity.
Allow me to say that as a
firm supporter of the rights and empowerment of women, Estonia values the
annual discussions at the CSW highly.
This year we have reached
the 20th anniversary of the Cairo Programme of Action on population
and development. In 2015 we will reach the 20th anniversary of the
Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action and the target year of the 2005
World Summit’s Millennium Development Goals. Therefore it is very timely to
analyse and evaluate what has been achieved, what are the lessons-learned and
best novelties put into practice and what are the backlashes. It is also time
to set goals for the coming years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
No-one doubts that a lot
needs to be done to reach the goals we have set for ourselves. Significant
contributions made by governments, private businesses, NGO-s and single individuals
need even more focussing and tailored action if we want to transfer the
continuously increasing quantitative contributions into qualitative change. I
truly hope we will succeed in achieving that kind of univocal foresightedness
with a forward-looking CSW outcome document.
I would like to elaborate more
on two topics. Firstly, no matter how
much resources we invest into societies, there is no development and no future
without education for all. The MDG-s address universal primary education. We
shall build on the efforts made so far and continue with education for all,
including higher levels of education. On the subject of empowerment, studies on
education present a clear connection between the years spent in school and the
average wages earned later on. Those studies are proof that for every year of
primary education, a girl’s earnings increase by 5 to 15 percent. Just one
additional year of secondary schooling boosts girls’ future earning potential
by 15-25 percent. The World Bank found in 2012 that eliminating discrimination
against women in the workplace could boost worker productivity by up to 40%.
Secondly, we must take full advantage of 21st century
technological developments that create possibilities to empower people, enable
people to participate in decision-making processes and enhance their living
conditions. The broader use of information and communications technology,
bridging the digital divide and Internet freedom are at the heart of a new and
sustainable global society. ICT is the engine of a new economy; it generates
entrepreneurship, ignites the possibility of new jobs and serves as a gateway
to unlimited knowledge.
Estonia has increased its
contribution to sustainable development, democracy and the rule of law, which
support the aim of gender mainstreaming into all societal spheres. In Estonia we have the comprehensive Development Plan
for Reducing Violence (2010–2014), which lays out concrete activities showing how
to reduce and prevent domestic violence, violence against minors, trafficking
in human beings, and violence against women and children. We also have the
Guidelines for Development of Criminal Policy until 2018, which provide that
Estonia must have a sufficient number of shelters for victims of domestic
violence and trafficking. Also, Estonia has a National Action Plan for the
implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325. Not less importantly, to enhance the position of women in society, we are
making efforts within the Human Rights Council of which we are members; and
also as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
please allow me to build on that brief elaboration and to envision some possibilities
for our cooperative future action:
1. Cooperation at the international and
national level remains a need and a challenge.
2. Progress indicators shall help us to
evaluate our action impact, the achieved qualitative change and trends.
3. Our approach shall be tailor-made
with strong national ownership to complement the support of the international community.
4. Full use should be made of 21st
century tools like the ICT to increase the participation and empowerment of
women and girls in our societies. Bridging the digital divide is essential to
achieve sustainable global society.
5. Qualitative change is not only about
addressing women and girls. It is also about men and boys. The suppression of
women and girls, sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence, female
genital mutilation, early and forced marriages – all these must remain in the
past and men and boys have an important role to play in achieving this.
6. I would also like to note that legal
restrictions on sexual orientation and gender identity must be removed and
sexual and reproductive health and rights must be recognized and promoted. I
firmly believe that no culture or religion should be used as an excuse for
violence against women and girls or for treating women and girls as subordinate
members of society.
7. Estonia supports UN-Women and
other stakeholders, who are calling for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, for
the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in all other goals and targets and for
women to be able to fully enjoy all human rights and means of empowerment.
Thank you, and I
wish us a lively continuation of this discussion.