No. 7




Estonian Women in Positions of Power, 1992-2003

11 June 2003


RiTo No. 7, 2003

  • Tiina Raitviir

    Tallinn Pedagogical University, Department of Sociology

In March 2003, the first woman was elected speaker of parliament – Ene Ergma.

On the local level, there are more women running and being elected. The percentages were: 1993 – 28.3%, 1996 – 33%, 1999 – 35.6%, 2002 – 37.7%. In councils, 1993 – 23.9%, 1996 – 26.6%, 1999 – 28.3%, 2002 – 28.3%.

The top level in local governments was even more unattainable than the council level. In January 2003, 15% of city chairmen were women and 12.4% of parish chairmen. Of mayors, 12.5% were women and of parish leaders, 11.9%.

In Estonia, executive power is valued greater than legislative, both on the state and local level. What is more in demand is harder to get.

Things seemed to be going in the right direction in Estonia, but slowly and with a step back for each couple steps ahead. The last few years have seen a slowdown: increase in the share of woman candidates in parliamentary and local elections has been slight or non-existent from 1999-2003.

According to stereotypes that persist in society, women are not suitable for politics or high leadership. Estonia is very traditional when it comes to gender issues. Both the public and party politicians have trouble understanding that there is nothing counter-intuitive in giving women equal opportunity. Nothing more is required than for Estonian policy and politicians to be willing to observe the Estonian constitution and universally accepted (at least in European culture) human rights.

Full article in Estonian