Round Table “How to Create Impact When Working Towards the Equality of Men and Women?”

On 21 November 2013, the Office of the Equality Commissioner hosted a round table “How to Create Impact When Working Towards the Equality of Men and Women?” to bring together politicians, academics, representatives of NGOs and journalists to discuss what can be done to ensure a stronger voice and higher profile for promoters of gender equality in Estonia.

Summary

The participants at the round table convened by the Office of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner on 21 November noted that a greater role for women in business, economic and political decision making is a matter of democracy, human rights and economic benefit. Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Estonian Women’s Union Siiri Oviir pointed out that it is important to also speak of fairness and political legitimacy when promoting a more equal representation of women on company boards and in politics. According to Oviir, it is important to keep in mind that the Riigikogu, the Estonian Parliament, makes decisions for the entire population of Estonia, yet only approximately 20% of parliamentarians are women.

MP Indrek Saar noted that an unbalanced society cannot be happy, and that we therefore need to systematically look for ways to encourage men to join in on the debate on equality. Krister Paris, Head of the Opinions Section of Eesti Päevaleht emphasised the media’s leading role in promoting equality. According to Paris, 80% of opinion articles submitted to Eesti Päevaleht are written by men, and he called upon women to speak up in the media more often. Leena Kivisild of the Estonian Association of Business and Professional Women stressed the need for changes in legislation to accelerate the achievement of a society with more equal opportunities for all. A number of recommendations for amendments to legislation were proposed at the round table. For example, to increase equality on the job market, a portion of parental leave could be reserved for fathers only, as is done in Iceland and Sweden.


Agenda

11.30-12.00 Welcome coffee and registration
12.00-13.30

  • Welcoming remarks by Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner Mari-Liis Sepper
  • Presentation by Lidia Adamska, PhD on the Polish experience in achieving the popularity and influence of the Congress of Women
  • Presentation by Magdalena Milewska on practical tips for a successful congress

13.30-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.30 Panel discussion “How to create impact when working towards the equality of men and women?”

  • Lidia Adamska, organizer of the Congress of Women in Poland
  • Siiri Oviir, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Estonian Women’s Union
  • Indrek Saar, Member of the Riigikogu, the Estonian Parliament
  • Leena Kivisild, Member of the Board of the Estonian Association of Business and Professional Women
  • Krister Paris, Head of the Opinions Section of the daily newspaper ‘Eesti Päevaleht’

15.30-16.30 Work in groups on future activities

*Lidia Adamska is a leading member of the organizing committee of the Polish Congress of Women. She has a PhD in Economics and has held senior management positions at the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 1994, including the position of Member of the Board of the Warsaw Stock Exchange from 2006-2013. She is a board member in many companies.
*Magdalena Milewska is a psychologist and educator. She has served as the Coordinator of Education Projects in the Congress of Women Association and was one of the organizers of the Fourth (2011) and Fifth (2012) Congress of Women.

The round table was held in the Riigikogu Conference Centre (Lossi plats 1, Tallinn).