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The Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur replied to the interpellation concerning the wage gap between women and men (No 134), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Marika Tuus-Laul, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Lembit Kaljuvee, Valeri Korb, Deniss Boroditš, Vladimir Velman, Lauri Laasi, Inara Luigas, Enn Eesmaa, Jüri Ratas, Olga Sõtnik, Viktor Vassiljev, Ester Tuiksoo and Kadri Simson on 15 March. The interpellators wished to know what the Government had done to reduce the wage gap. 

In Pevkur’s words, the statistic comparison made in Europe shows that the wage gap in Estonia is undoubtedly one of the issues that must and can be addressed. In order to solve the problem, the essence of the wage gap has been studied. “The gender wage gap study carried out mainly in Estonia in 2009 led to the conclusion that the gender wage gap in Estonia is affected in the first place by the joint influence of different factors. For example, the wage gap is partly due to the Estonian people’s attitudes and current norms for men and women,” Pevkur explained. In his opinion, this is affected by difficulties in reconciling work and family life, first of all problems with kindergarten places and insufficient participation of men in caring for young children, including unequal distribution of parental leave between women and men. Personnel practices in workplaces also affect the wage gap, the Minister underlined. 

In Pevkur’s words, we must study the essence of the problem in depth. He noted that, if we look at different activities, then foreign funds as well as the state budget funds have been successfully used in the Ministry in the interests of resolving the gender wage gap and equal treatment issue. Different information campaigns and analyses of professional gender equality have been carried out. Likewise, experts on this field have been trained. According to Pevkur’s explanations, for example, there is also a procedure for issuing a certificate of an employee and family friendly enterprise under way at the moment. He underlined that, if we look at the completed gender equality promotion programme, then it had studied the developing of the gender wage gap in Estonia. In 2011, a conference was held on the basis of these studies and a collection of articles on the wage gap was published. Pevkur informed that, this year, we have managed to organise wage gap information seminars already in four places – Tartu, Pärnu, Rakvere and Narva –, and they have also been covered by the media. He underlined that informing is an important part of that work. Pevkur noted that trainings on the Gender Equality Act are planned for the second half of this year. Of course, in the first place, those trainings and informations serve a longer-term goal, so that thereby the situation would improve, the Minister hoped. 

Pevkur also replied to the interpellation concerning the fight against HIV/AIDS (No 142), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Yana Toom, Viktor Vassiljev, Eldar Efendijev, Vladimir Velman, Lembit Kaljuvee, Mihhail Stalnuhhin and Marika Tuus-Laul on 2 April. 

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 48 of the Income Tax Act (184 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was excluded from the agenda for the working week. 

During the open microphone, Viktor Vassiljev and Kalle Laanet took the floor.

The Riigikogu Press Service