This Manifesto is based on the principle of equality of men and women and the prohibition of gender discrimination, as established by international law, European Union treaties and the constitution of the Republic of Estonia. It recognizes the equal responsibility of men and women for the current situation in our society and future of the Estonian nation. It also is inspired by the historical experience of Estonian women´s movement, witnessing that gender inequality causes demographic, social and economic problems and critically assesses the activity of the Estonian state in promoting the gender equality. For all of these reasons, the Estonian VI Women Congress has adopted the following declaration:
We find that a woman, her thoughts, words, actions, knowledge, work and creation is less valued in Estonian society than those of a man. The biggest gender pay gap in Europe as well as the current situation in politics and economy where mainly men hold the leading positions demonstrates this.
We wish that Estonian economic and financial policy would consider primarily the unity of the people and the interests of different groups in society. The resources of the state ought to be divided fairly, taking into account the equal rights of men and women as well as different needs of men and women due to their different situations.
We want that many jobs that are mainly held by women (such as museum workers, teachers, librarians, social workers etc.) would be valued and fairly rewarded and that a birth of a child would not hinder a woman´s career opportunities.
We are of the opinion that both parents should participate equally in raising children, this should be supported by valuing fatherhood and the respective laws. The right of the child to receive monthly alimony from the parent living apart should be guaranteed.
We decisively denounce domestic abuse, human trafficking as well as humiliation of woman´s human dignity and violation of bodily integrity. We see the reason for all this in women´s economic vulnerability and lower status in society.
We find that the Estonian gender equality law which has been effective for ten years already and international promises have been ignored in Estonia both due to ignorance as well as due to lack of clear political will. Unlike other European democratic states, Estonia has not set national goals for decreasing gender inequality nor has it defined specific methods to encourage equality.
We will not accept that Estonia still holds on to outdated gender stereotypes and beliefs, since this is a major cause for many important problems concerning women and the entire society that have up to now, remained unsolved.
Estonian VI Women’s Congress demands:
1. The Parliament election law must include regulations to ensure equal opportunities to be elected for both men and women and that these regulations be actively enforced. It is necessary to establish electoral lists for all parties in which women and men candidates are presented alternatively on the list. This new requirement must be established by the 2015 parliament elections;
2. In all public administration collegial bodies, including state-owned companies, and foundations, the governing bodies must include both men and women, with no less than 40% women; furthermore, gender balance must be in focus while forming Governments;
3. In order to fully apply the Gender Equality Act, the Government together with civil society organisations must prepare a strategic plan for gender equality based on expert knowledge and taking into account the best practices of other countries; the plan must set specific aims and means to decrease gender inequality in all key areas of social life.
4. To achieve equal pay for equal work done by men and women, the state must immediately establish a state-wide supervision of wage conditions and wage agreements, create transparency in pay systems and prosecute employers who violate the equal pay principle for men and women.
5. To counterbalance parents’ work and family life responsibilities, and to improve women’s situation in the labour market, the parental leave, and parental benefits conditions must be made more flexible, and supportive of fatherhood. Fathers’ individual right to receive parental benefit covered with parental leave must be legitimized.
The social and political inequality and poverty of women are passed on to our children diminishing their well-being and development possibilities. Our daughters and sons are the future of Estonia and thus deserve better.
We turn to all women and progressive men, asking them to show support for the aspirations expressed in this Manifest.
March 7th, 2014, Tallinn.
More info about Estonian Women´s VI Congress and the Manifesto is available at Estonian Women´s Union http://naisliit.ee.