Estonia (CEDAW 18-11-2016)
The Committee considered the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Estonia (CEDAW/C/EST/5-6) at its 1455th and 1456th meetings, on 9 November 2016 (see CEDAW/C/SR.1455 and 1456). The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/EST/Q/5-6 and the responses of Estonia are contained in CEDAW/C/EST/Q/5-6/Add.1.
D. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
- The Committee welcomes the amendments to the Gender Equality Act and Equal Treatment Act, which further defined discrimination in labour disputes and sexual harassment in the workplace and introduced a shared burden of proof in civil and administrative proceedings in such cases. However, the Committee regrets the absence of statistical data from the labour dispute committees and the courts that would make it possible to evaluate the impact of these measures and of specific sanctions for employers who violate the relevant provisions of the Gender Equality Act, including the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. The Committee is also concerned about:
(a) The lack of an effective mechanism for bringing complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace to allow for cases to be taken to the court ex officio;
(b) Horizontal and vertical occupational segregation, the persistent gender pay gap of almost 30 per cent and a lack of transparency on wages at the enterprise level;
(c) The lack of systematic collection of sex-disaggregated statistical data on employment as required under the Gender Equality Act;
(d) The significant underrepresentation of women in management positions in private companies;
(e) The low employment rate among women aged 25 to 49, owing to unequal sharing of child-raising and caretaking responsibilities between women and men and the lack of childcare services in the State party;
(f) Employment discrimination against women returning to work after maternity leave;
(g) The lack of information on the employment rates and working conditions of women belonging to the Russian-speaking minority, women with disabilities and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women.
- The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Establish an effective mechanism for bringing complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace to allow for cases to be taken to the court by the Labour Inspectorate or/and the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner ex officio;
(b) Strengthen measures to address horizontal and vertical occupational segregation and amend the Gender Equality Act to mandate the Labour Inspectorate to monitor the implementation of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value;
(c) Strengthen the collection, analysis and publication of sex-segregated statistical data on employment, including court data on the enforcement of the Gender Equality Act;
(d) Increase the representation of women in management positions in private companies, including through temporary special measures;
(e) Introduce effective sanctions against employers who violate the Gender Equality Act;
(f) Allocate a specific budget to the implementation of the Welfare Development Plan 2016-2023 with a view to reducing the disproportionate burden of care work on women and facilitating access to paternity leave for men;
(g) Promote employment of women in the 25-49 age group by providing sufficient childcare services and encouraging men to take paternity leave;
(h) Address employment discrimination against women returning to work after maternity leave;
(i) Promote access to the labour market for women belonging to the Russian-speaking minority, women with disabilities and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women by addressing discrimination and social stigma against them.
Disadvantaged groups of women
- The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The growing number of single female asylum seekers at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence;
(b) Discrimination against lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, especially in the workplace;
(c) The absence of criminal proceedings in cases of hate crimes committed against lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women and the lack of statistical data on such crimes.
- The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Address the special reception needs of asylum-seeking single women and establish measures for the identification and prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence in the reception centres for asylum seekers;
(b) Allocate additional resources for ensuring an adequate standard of living for asylum seekers, in particular single women and single mothers, and for measures to prevent and combat sexual and gender-based violence against such women;
(c) Address discrimination against lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women in the workplace, through awareness-raising campaigns and the prosecution and punishment of offenders;
(d) Develop and adopt legislation to explicitly criminalize hatred against lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women;
(e) Instruct relevant law enforcement agencies, such as the Ministry of the Interior, to collect disaggregated data on homophobic and transphobic crimes.