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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Violence Against Women Is the Most Shameful Aspect of Human Rights Violations


At Monday’s conference entitled “Men talking about violence against women”, which was hosted by Tallinn University and organised by the Estonian Women`s Shelters Union in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Estonian Women’s Associations Roundtable, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that ensuring the rights of women is one of the priorities of Estonia’s foreign policy in the area of human rights. In the period 2009-2013, Estonia has contributed more than 1.2 million Euros from its international development cooperation resources in order to ensure the rights of women around the world.

At the end of November, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet will become the White Ribbon Ambassador for Europe. The White Ribbon campaign is the world’s largest initiative that involves men and boys in combating violence against women. “Nobody should be silent or apathetic about violence against women,” said Paet. “For the situation to improve, men must not only admit to the problem but be ready to act to combat it,” he added.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that combating violence against women requires unified and coordinated efforts both domestically and on the international level. “Developed countries, including Estonia, have a duty to contribute to the objective that women be on an equal level with men all over the world,” stated Paet. “It is a sad fact that violence against women is often used as a weapon of war in military conflicts. In order to improve the situation, we can encourage international organisations such as UN Women, which is the UN agency that promotes women’s rights, as well as the International Criminal Court to be even more active in their activities to ensure women’s rights,” he added.

Estonia acknowledges the efforts of the UN to improve the situation. In March of this year, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet participated in the 3rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and also met with UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura. At the meeting, Paet and Bangura agreed that violence against women and gender-based violence cannot have a cultural or religious justification and that the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war is completely unacceptable.

The role of women in ensuring peace and security is dealt with in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 from the year 2000, which is also one of the foundations for international cooperation in this area. The resolution, which was accepted more than ten years ago, was the first Security Council resolution which acknowledged the suffering that is caused by the disproportional impact that armed conflicts have on women and children. With the resolution, the council set the objective that the international community must systematically take into account the gender aspect during conflict management. In 2010, Estonia developed a four-year action plan to better coordinate its domestic and foreign policy for the achievement of this objective. Estonia also participates in the 1325-related EU working group and has been one of the countries that prioritises these principles in NATO missions. Since 2006, Estonia has made voluntary donations through the UN to ensure women’s rights. The UN is in the process of developing the post-2015 sustainable development objectives, and Estonia would like to see the inclusion of an objective regarding gender equality and reduction of sexual violence. The topic will come under discussion in New York next February.

Estonia has contributed to assisting women through international development cooperation in the period 2009-2013 in countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Afghanistan, Armenia, Yemen, Moldova, Central African Republic, Democratic republic of Congo, South Sudan, and many others.   


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