In today’s Estonia, people are protected from unequal treatment, but this has not always been the case. Historically, the roles of men and women in both family and social life have been very different. For example, men and women had different rights and different opportunities to shape their own lives and have a say in society.
Although the boundaries of freedom for men and women have expanded today and their rights are generally the same, we are still affected by historical values and preconceptions. Even today, there is a widespread preconception that women should be housekeepers and men should go to work and earn money for their families.
Such outdated attitudes have created a situation where, despite men and women technically having the same rights, their real standings and opportunities are different. For example, unequal treatment of women by employers due to motherhood and having children is widespread, which prevents women from realising their full potential in the labour market.
Historically, different people and groups have been treated less favourably for reasons other than their sex, too. For example, in many societies, people are excluded or persecuted because of their religion, political affiliation, beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, age or ethnicity. Attitudes and fears towards people who are different often lead to unequal treatment and a situation where people cannot truly fulfil their potential in the labour market or in society.
In Estonia, people are protected from unequal treatment based on gender, age, nationality, ethnic background, skin colour, sexual orientation, religion and beliefs. However, equal treatment does not mean that everyone should be treated in the same way; on the contrary, people should be treated according to their needs. For example, people with special needs cannot and must not be treated in exactly the same way as people without health issues. They need to be provided with suitable conditions to live, work and study, and these may differ from those created for people without health issues.
This explanation does not constitute legal aid in a specific case. Therefore, if you feel that you have been treated unequally, but you did not find a solution to your problem in this article, or if you have a question, 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.