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Statement by H.E Ms. Marina Kaljurand, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Estonia at the General Debate of the 59th Session of Commission on the Status of Women


Excellences, distinguished members of delegations and civil society,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me also welcome the adoption of the political declaration on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women earlier this week.

Estonia aligns itself also with the statement delivered by the European Union earlier this week.

The adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action in 1995 was a turning point in the protection of women’s human rights. We shall not miss the unique moment when we celebrate not only the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, but also the passing of 15 years from the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. These anniversaries coincide with the discussion on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This makes year 2015 special by giving the international community an unparalleled opportunity to put the human rights of women and girls in the center of global discussion and work towards delivering substantial results. We must not miss this momentum, because business as usual cannot continue. Human rights for all, including women and girls, must be part of all policy making, they cannot be seen apart; they are the basis for peace and sustainable development in the 21st century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Estonia would like to reassert its active commitment to the Beijing Platform of Action - it is the corner stone to achieving gender equality, respecting human rights and promoting the empowerment of women and girls. It is with heavy heart that we see that the vision of The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action has not been achieved. However, this should not discourage us, au contraire – it should encourage us to change and intensify the actions in order to reach the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The situation of human rights of women and girls is complex matter that cannot be fixed with one magic solution. It’s a universal challenge that calls for close cooperation between all actors and should be an integral part of every heading and sub-heading of Sustainable Development Goals.

I would like to stress the importance of awareness. The Beijing Platform of Action and related national and international norms will not fulfill their goals unless we stop the prevalence of stereotypical attitudes, social norms and practices that support and reproduce discrimination and violence against women.  Moreover, with the digital revolution they have new platforms like rapidly expanding social media. This creates new challenges that we could not foresee in 1995. In order to tackle such norms and practices we must include the whole society, which also means including men and boys. At this point I would like to welcome UN-Women’s initiative He for She that not only emphasizes the role of men in making a change, but also illustrates how social media can be used to work towards breaking stereotypes globally.

Secondly, I would like to speak about the importance of education - the basis on which everything else is built upon. Quality educational systems provide valuable medium for spreading awareness needed to promote gender equality and bringing an end to discriminatory social norms and practices. Access to quality education is the main tool to empower women and girls from what everyone wins by also creating more versatile labor markets that lead to overall economic growth. It is in the field of education that the rapid development of digitalization can bring a positive effect. It gives the possibility to offer classes online and teachers can teach more students at the same time. Moreover - it helps to bring education to children in remote rural areas and those in conflict situation where access to schools and teachers is not always possible. Estonia has taken upon itself to spread the knowledge and possibilities that ICT brings to education also through its development cooperation in several countries, including in Afghanistan, where we have managed with properly chosen ICT tools to educate many women and girls on various fields.

Dear friends,

With raising awareness and providing quality education to all, including women and girls, we pave the way to acceptance of norms that respect women’s human rights and therefore ensuring the implementation of those norms. As a result we are likely to see better and healthier societies, economic growth, sustainable development and peace.

On that note I would like to briefly mention UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security. Women can play a key role in conflict prevention and resolution, peace negotiations and peace building as well in post-conflict reconstruction. At this moment not many have the opportunity to be included, so we must continue promoting the role of women in peace and security. We are looking forward to the Global Review of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and hope it will provide the international community with an additional push to make previously set goals into reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you, and I wish us a lively continuation of the discussion.


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