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Gender equality and gender-based violence

Gender equality means that equal rights, obligations, opportunities and responsibilities are ensured for men and women to participate in all aspects of social life. The prevention of violence against women is an important prerequisite for achieving equality.

The Ministry of Social Affairs designs the appropriate policy for the achievement of gender equality and implements policies that directly promote gender equality.

The objective of the Gender Equality Act is to:

  • ensure the equal treatment of men and women as provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and;
  • promote the equality of men and women as a fundamental human right and for the public good in the areas of education, professional life, availability of goods or services, and all other areas of social life.

Proceeding from the law, the Gender Equality Council, advising the Government of the Republic, has been established. The Gender Equality Council is a body advising the Government of the Republic, established in 2013 on the here (EST).

The Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner monitors the performance of the requirements established by the Gender Equality Act and the Equal Treatment Act.


Gender mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is a strategy, in the implementation of which gender equality is taken into consideration upon planning any policies and activities. 

In Estonia, the obligation to implement the gender mainstreaming is stipulated in the Gender Equality ActThe objective of gender mainstreaming is to design policies and plan activities and initiatives of the state in a manner that they would take into consideration the interests, necessities and opportunities of men and women, and would not place one of the gender groups in a worse position than the other.

Upon the implementation of gender mainstreaming, it is important to understand that inequalities between men and women can be found in almost any area of life and that there are no policy areas, which gender mainstreaming does not concern. Upon making political decisions and proposals, an informed assessment must be made concerning the effects and benefits of the decision on men and women. 


Violence against women

The reasons for this type of violence lie in historically established unequal power relations between men and women. Violence against women includes all acts of gender violence, as a result or possible result of which physical, sexual, psychological or economic damages or sufferings are caused to women. This also includes threatening to commit such acts, duress or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, irrespective of whether this takes place in public or private life.

Forms of violence against women are domestic violence, violence in relationship, sexual violence, forced marriage, women genital mutilation, honour crimes, prostitution.

The main role of the Ministry of Social Affairs in the area of combating violence is the prevention of violence against women and the protection of victims of violence. 


Victim support

Victim support is a free public social service, aiming at maintaining or enhancing the ability to cope of victims. In Estonia, the organisation and implementation of victim support is the task of the Victim Support Department of the Social Insurance Board.

Victim support employees provide emotional support and information about the possibilities of receiving the aid. They also instruct and assist in communicating with the state and local government authorities, as well as other authorities providing services necessary for the victim.

Guidelines for organising victim support services are stipulated in the Victim Support Act.


Trafficking in human beings

Trafficking in human beings is the exploitation of other people by the trafficker or enabling others to do this. A definition of trafficking in human beings comprises both national and international activities. This means that trafficking in human beings must not necessarily take place across state borders, but it can also occur domestically. Trafficking in human beings constitutes modern slavery. Types of trafficking in human beings are professional and sexual exploitation and organ trafficking. 



Last updated: 13 July 2017