Gender Inequality in Europe: Negative Impacts on Estonian Women

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Throughout history, women have constantly struggled for equal rights. However, even after women have gained increased equality in many countries, gender inequality still exists on an international scale. The European country Estonia, in particular, faces a noticeably greater gap between men’s and women’s rights in comparison with its European neighbors. Despite the Estonian Gender Equality Law passed in 2004, sexism and gender stereotypes are still largely prevalent in Estonia’s government and society. The problem of gender inequality has negatively impacted Estonian women in economic, social, and political aspects of life in Estonia.

One major result of gender inequality is the limiting of economic opportunities for women. Because of traditional gender stereotypes, Estonian women are believed to be less valuable in the workplace than men. This form of sexism has heavily impacted the ability of women to obtain and maintain employment and salary: “in the 1990s women’s unemployment exceeded that of men (38.3% of women and 24.7% of men)” (Erickson 278). In addition to the high unemployment rate for women, Estonia’s pay gap (the difference between men and women’s wages for the same job) is currently the highest in Europe: “women are paid over 30% less than men for the same profession” (Domsch 73). Since Estonian women are economically disadvantaged by unfair employment and salary, many women are forced to become economically dependent on their husbands or fathers. Overall, Estonia’s large pay gap reflects its economic sexism and the detrimental effects of gender inequality on women.

Gender inequality in Estonia has also led to social prejudice against women. Since Estonia’s incorporation into the Soviet Union, gender roles have been deeply established into Estonian society. These gender roles dictate what women are allowed to do and what small spheres of influence they have on economics, government, and politics. Gender roles have also inevitably led to sexism:...
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