Cooperation is power: Estonian women’s organizations are functioning and developing
The Estonian women’s movement, whose traditions reach back to the century before last, started developing especially rapidly in the beginning of last century when Estonia became an independent democratic state. When independence was lost, all women’s organizations stopped operating as well.
The women’s movement in the Soviet era was rife with conflicts: ostensibly women had all their rights, and women were allowed employed in all walks of life in accordance with forcible emancipation. Although activity was largely formal and controlled from above, there was some self-initiative: an attempt to stress the importance of the family, and health protection of mother and child. At the end of the 1980s, major social changes resumed in Estonia. In the course of these changes, the Estonia’s Women’s Society was reinstated in Tartu, along with a number of other influential pre-war women’s organizations. Around the turn of the century, Estonia already had over 160 different women’s associations, according to the Estonian Women’s Studies and Resource Centre. Estonia keeps in contact with European women’s organizations through a broad-based umbrella coalition called the Estonian Women’s Associations Roundtable, formed in 2003. In October 2004, the Roundtable was accepted as a member in the European Women’s Lobby. It is noteworthy that this roundtable and its constituent organizations have consistently stood up for gender balance equality in society, both in Estonia and Europe.