A panel discussion entitled “Contribution of women to national defense – Defense Forces, Defense League, Women's Home Defense – or?” focused Wednesday on the role of women in Estonian defense structures.
The discussion, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tallinn on Tuesday, was organized by the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association, the Friedrich Ebert Fund and NATO Headquarters. The findings presented indicated that women in the country are willing to do their part for national defense, but the actual number of women in the Defense Forces is low - the main question being one of outlet.
The panelists found that trust in women is not an issue of promoting them to top positions, but of the perception of society in general. Polling indicates that there is a feeling that women do not belong in the country's defense structures, and there is a lack of information on how women could contribute.
The aim is to reorganize state support for getting more women into national defense and to make their involvement easier.
One idea is to offer kindergartens or extended breaks for new mothers employed in the Defense Forces. Panelists said more opportunities, ranging from simpler tasks and short training courses to full-out service possibilities, should be offered.
The discussion concluded that the potential of women to contribute to Estonian defense capabilities has been left undeveloped.
The panel was part of a serious of discussions on the role of women in Estonian defense, and included Minister of Social Protection Helmen Kütt, the head of Women's Home Defense Airi Tooming, and Defense League and Defense Forces representatives.