Gender equality is the principle that women and men should have equal rights, obligations, responsibilities and opportunities. Gender differences must not lead to inequalities in the social position or treatment of women and men.
Gender equality means equal rights and opportunities for women and men in education, employment and other areas. The work, ambitions, requests and needs of both men and women must be equally valued. A person’s gender must not limit their ability to shape their own life or have a say in social matters. This is a political objective from the viewpoint of society’s development. The opposite of the concept of gender equality is gender inequality, not gender difference.
Gender equality is expressed, for example, in women’s and men’s:
- balanced participation in decision-making at both national and local levels;
- equal use of women’s and men’s knowledge and skills for the development of society;
- equal economic independence;
- equal status in the labour market;
- equal opportunities for good physical and mental health;
- equal opportunities to reconcile work, family and private life;
- equal access to resources (including time, information, networks), etc.
Although the conditions laid down by law appear to be the same for everyone, in reality the social obligations, opportunities, responsibilities and rights of women and men are unequally distributed. Societal norms, prevailing gender stereotypes and rooted perceptions of gender roles can lead to unequal treatment of people at work, in education and elsewhere, and can limit women’s and men’s educational and employment options and personal development, thus constituting a major obstacle to achieving equality between women and men. Gender inequalities in education and the labour market, such as gender-based and vertical segregation and the pay gap, are not the result of the different biological abilities of men and women, but of traditional perceptions of appropriate behaviours and occupations for men and women and gender stereotyped role expectations.
Gender equality is both a principle to follow and a goal to strive for.
The Gender Equality Act has been in force in Estonia since 2004.
If you feel that you’ve been treated unequally, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.