Statement by H. E. Mr. Urmas Paet, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Estonia, at the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
Mr. Chair, Excellencies,
distinguished members of delegations and the civil society, Ladies and
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 a rights-based approach, Estonia values highly the
annual discussions at the Commission on the Status of Women. Women’s rights
continue to be one of Estonia’s human rights priorities. Evidence shows that
focussed attention on gender equality in the world during the past 60 years,
both at the national and international levels, really has highlighted the
shamefulness of violence against women. And yet, in 2013, gender inequality
continues to be a phenomenon that cuts across boundaries of wealth, race, and
culture. Estonia remains committed to the principle of equality between women
and men as a fundamental human right, the principle that has its roots in the
first Estonian constitution written in 1920.
Within the next
two years we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of two landmark declarations. The Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, which is
an agenda for women’s empowerment, and the Cairo Programme of Action on
population and development, are a solid basis for
promoting gender equality, women’s rights and family planning. Estonia firmly
stands for the principles enshrined therein. Also, it is more than 12 years
since we adopted the Security Council resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and
Security” to acknowledge the disproportionate effect of war and conflicts on
women and children. It is time to analyze our achievements.
Allow me to
illustrate with a few words where Estonia stands in this context. More can be
done in all countries, even in those that have been comparatively successful,
like my own, in addressing this question.
attention to problems will guarantee sustainable results.
me assure you that the Estonian Government is committed to combating
gender-based violence. It is pertinent to have a good strategic
framework in place. In Estonia we have the comprehensive Development Plan for
Reducing Violence (2010–2014), which lays out concrete activities how to reduce and
prevent violence in its various forms, including domestic violence, violence
against minors, trafficking in human beings, and violence against women and
children. On the justice system side we have the Guidelines for
Development of Criminal Policy until 2018, which provide that Estonia
must have a sufficient number of shelters for victims of criminal offences,
including victims of domestic violence and trafficking. In addition, Estonia has a National Action Plan for the
implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325 with the goal of defining and systematizing our
activities in the field of international peace missions and development
Tackling gender-based violence requires much more than strategies; it requires a
range of interlinked activities.
First of all, it requires
powerful and consistent prevention activities among the general
population, NGOs and other stakeholders. The role of men and boys in preventing
violence against women and girls cannot be overestimated. Awareness raising
campaigns and education are pertinent to break gender stereotypes, empower
women and girls to report incidents and use available services. It is still a
reality that attitudes in society too often favour women’s economic dependence
on men. In today’s afternoon panel on prevention the Estonian panellist will
present concrete examples of primary prevention.
is needed is support services for victims. We believe we have a good system for victim
in Estonia, both for victims of domestic violence as well as for victims of
trafficking and sexual exploitation. The shelter system started only in
the early 2000s practically from scratch with very limited resources. Today
there are ten specialised women’s shelters in Estonia, operated by NGOs, which
provide temporary shelter for women – with or without children – who are the
victims of domestic and gender based violence. Two other special centres
provide counselling and shelter for victims of trafficking. Additionally, phone
hotlines are operating daily.
Third, a key factor to success is enhanced co-operation between all
stakeholders –professionals and institutions, civil society and the government. As Estonia is a very small country,
co-operation is a multiplying power; we have a very active NGO network in
Estonia, working closely with the state. It is important to ensure that the
people working with victims are well trained, capable of detecting, preventing
and dealing with the complex issue of domestic violence.
Of course, this
support system is like a living organism and needs constant grooming. Even
though remarkable progress has been made, we are still working on access to
services, standardized services, cooperation, and proactive outreach. We are
working constantly towards improving the quality of services, raising public
awareness, carrying out and mapping studies and analysis. In our fight against
violence we have different international cooperation partners.
We still have a long way to go on the road towards a completely
inclusive world where women and men are truly equal. The problem of gender
equality has to be addressed at all levels – international, regional, and national.
Gender mainstreaming remains a basis for combating violence against women, but
this is only a starting point. The actual roots of the problem are social and
economic, as well as cultural. Thus, combating violence against women and
achieving gender equality cannot be regarded as separate from promoting human
rights and social justice in general.
Thank you for your attention.