HRC 50 – Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women – Panel 2: Human rights-based and gender-responsive care and support systems – Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – to be delivered by Ambassador Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi – 27 June 2022

Mr President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and my own country Estonia.

Gender equality and full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls in all their diversity, including women with disabilities, is a priority for the Nordic and Baltic countries. We therefore welcome today`s focus on inclusive, human-rights based and gender-transformative care and support systems.

Women carry the disproportionate burden of caring for children and elderly and domestic work all over the world. Before the pandemic started, women did nearly three times as much unpaid care work as men. The pandemic with school closures and overburdened health systems has exacerbated existing gender inequalities.

The overburden of unpaid care as well as underpaid work constrains women`s full, equal, effective and meaningful participation in social, economic and political life, their equal access to the labour market and contributes to the increase of the gender pay gap. According to studies there is a direct link between the unequal division of un­paid care in households and gender inequality in the labour market.

The Nordic and Baltic countries have taken significant steps to change the care and support systems in order to create a more gender equal society for all. Social infrastructure, in particular the accessible and affordable child-care and elderly care of good quality is a fundamental prerequisite to tackle inequality. To facilitate the work-life balance, well-compensated childcare leave and state funded child-care is needed for all. Especially in countries with aging population, well-developed home services for long-term care as well as institutional services must be provided. In addition, women’s participation in the labour force contributes substantially to the national income. In short, these policies are beneficial for the individual and for the state.

The services alone do not change the uneven care burden. To change the patterns of inequality we need to address and eliminate patriarchal and gender stereotypes and harmful social norms in the public and private spheres. Structural inequalities across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection need to be addressed.

I thank you!