Statement by H. E. Mr. Urmas Paet, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia at the Fifty-Eighth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
Panel Discussion on „Accountability and participation
of women and girls in the implementation of the MDGs“
Financing for gender equality
members of delegations and civil society, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year we have reached
the 20th anniversary of the Cairo Programme of Action on population
and development, and next year we have the 20th anniversary of the
Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. Both of these anniversaries signify
important milestones in the agenda for women’s empowerment. We are also
approaching the 2005 World Summit’s Millennium Development Goals’ target year
of 2015 and should evaluate what has been achieved in this regard and what remains
to be done with regards to the post-2015 agenda.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Gender equality is a goal
that can only be achieved with a good toolbox for which we need responsible
policymaking and educated decisions combined with efficient global cooperation
and joint efforts. Only then can we create a solid basis to enhance the full
enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls, enhance access to health services,
including sexual and reproductive health services, access to education, contribute
to family planning and empower women and girls, tackle violence against women and
girls, including domestic violence and violence in armed conflicts, to fight
against impunity and create rehabilitation networks for victims. To be clear –
Estonia stands firmly in support of all those issues and continues to enhance
its contribution world-wide.
The main responsibility towards
achieving MDGs and also future sustainable development goals should lie with
the nation states and their governments. Often progress towards fulfilling
these goals is not even a question of financial resources, but a question of
policies. The effectiveness of the international community’s support and
official development assistance is much higher in those partner countries,
where the public institutions are capable, transparent and accountable, and
where adequate policies are in place and implemented. The support from Estonia
and our fellow EU member states remains significant, considering that currently
the EU contributes more than half of the official development assistance
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to stress that gender should be
mainstreamed into every policymaking and funding decision. Specific measures
are of utmost importance, but a wider shift in a global society and in people’s
minds can only be achieved by using the so-called “gender lens”. Gender
equality markers should be used in policy-making, project proposals and their
financing processes. Taking gender into
account in all fields that engage people will help us to achieve also the
It is also essential to
make good use of strong public-private and non-governmental partnerships. Thereby I would like to give special attention to the
initiatives related to education. Welcoming the Secretary General’s Global
Education First Initiative, we have noticed and applaud the contributions and
pledges by the private sector. Microsoft, Nestlé, Mastercard and many other partners around the world are making commitments to achieve the targets of
the Initiative. We wish that there will be more such initiatives and cooperation
with the private sector in the future.
Education is crucial for ending poverty, contributing
to social integration and full employment. Studies have proved that for every
year of primary education, a girl’s earnings increase by 5 to 15 per cent. Just
one additional year of secondary schooling boosts girls’ future earning
potential by 15-25 percent. Similarly, in 2012 the World Bank found that
eliminating discrimination against women in the workplace could boost worker
productivity by up to 40%.
Supporting education and especially education for
girls and women has also been and remains an important component of Estonian
bi-lateral development assistance programs. Estonia has supported projects
contributing to the quality of and access to education in countries like
Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, but also in Yemen and Afghanistan.
Besides projects to support general education, we have also supported
vocational training and entrepreneurship education for women, as
entrepreneurship remains one of the most important ways out from poverty.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We shall take full advantage of the technological
developments of the 21st century that create enormous possibilities to
empower people, enable people to participate in decision making processes and
enhance their living conditions.
of information and communications technology, bridging the digital divide and
Internet freedom are at the heart of a new and sustainable global society.
To move forward I suggest
the following for our discussion and possible future action:
The cooperation between various authorities
at the international and national level continues to be both necessity and a
challenge. Estonia is a strong promoter of progress indicators which help us to
evaluate the impact of our actions, the changes achieved as well as trends. More
attention should be given to the qualitative change and development.
Action needs resources and good
results can be achieved when both the public and private sector contribute.
With effective donor coordination, sometimes very little additional resources
are required to implement the objectives set out in the Action Plans on a much
twinning network of partner countries, wherein a donor country could
support a partner country to develop its implementation capacities should be broadened. For example,
within the UNSCR 1325 network, we have about 40 countries with NAP – it should
be easy to double this number.
Full use should be made of 21st
century tools like the ICT and Internet to increase participation and empowerment
of women and girls in our societies. There are many positive examples how women have successfully used social media
and online news platforms to various ends to enhance their living conditions:
rallying support for reforms in the legal systems of states, gaining access to
markets to expand economic opportunities, engaging constituencies to promote
women’s participation and monitoring incidents to enhance safety. Bridging the
digital divide is essential to achieve sustainable global society.
Qualitative change is not only about
addressing women and girls. It is also about men and boys. 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. In this connection I would like to welcome the campaign
“He for She”, launched last week by UN Women.
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
I consider it to be of utmost
importance that sustainable development goals will continue, now more through a
human rights based approach, towards goals we set with the MDG’s. The SDG-s
must be clearly defined with implementable and measurable goals and covered
with sufficient resources.
Education shall be on the frontline
of attention and contributions as there is no future without education for all.
Sustainable development goals must address post-primary education levels with
Ladies and Gentlemen,
you, and I wish us a lively continuation of the discussion.