Paet: in fight against violence against women, strategy is not enough

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Photo: Raigo Pajula

At the session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women taking place at UN headquarters in New York, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia feels international agreements on promoting women’s rights and gender equality are very important, reported Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Estonian foreign minister stated that a strategy is not enough to fight violence against women. “Many interconnected activities are required, such as preventative measures that involve the wider community as well as NGOs. A support system– shelters and help hotlines – is also needed for the victims of violence,” Paet noted. “Co-operation among all parties is vital – civil society and the government, as well as various institutions,” he added.

Paet stated that the legislative framework is also essential for promoting the rights of women. Estonia has an action plan for reducing violence and developing criminal policy, and an action plan has also been approved for implementing Security Council Resolution 1325. The Estonian foreign minister emphasised the important of the principles of the Beijing Declaration as well as adhering to the action plan to fulfil them.

The main topic of this year’s session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is the fight against violence against women in all its forms. In addition to ensuring quality services for all victims, another keyword is primary prevention, which is often a matter of education and changing attitudes.

Estonia’s best practices for primary prevention were introduced during a high-level expert panel discussion held after the session by director of the department for gender equality of the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs Liina Kanter. “Gender-based violence is one of the harshest manifestations of gender inequality,” said Kanter. “Changes for the better start with the courage to see and recognise the inequality. At the same time, it is difficult to admit that we live in an unsafe society, where one can become a victim of violence based solely on one’s gender. This is why we consider it important to increase people’s awareness of their rights as well as opportunities to get help. Every person has the right to a safe life free of violence,” Kanter emphasised.

The Commission on the Status of Women is a commission of the UN Economic and Social Council that is made up of 45 members. Estonia is a member of the commission from 2011-2015. Every year representatives of the member states gather at UN Headquarters in New York to give an evaluation of gender equality-related developments, talk about challenges, and make international standards for promoting gender equality and women’s rights more effective. In addition to representatives of the governments, representatives of NGOs also participate in the session.

In addition to addressing the problem of violence against women, the currently ongoing 57th session is also focusing on equal responsibility for men and women, for example in preventing the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus, and taking the aspect of gender equality into account in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. Member states are working on conclusions in parallel with the two-week high-level debate and roundtables. The goal of the conclusions is to recognise problems related to the fight against various forms of violence against women and violence prevention and to offer globally oriented solutions.