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Statement by H. E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Estonia at the general debate of the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

17.03.2014

Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action

and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the GA - sharing of experiences and good practices on implementation of the Platform for Action, with a view to overcoming remaining obstacles and new challenges

 


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.

 

Dear friends,

 

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.

 

Dear friends,

 

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,

 

To conclude, 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.

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