What if Estonia had 15 female ministers (19)

MP Kaja Kallas Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
Juhan-Markus Laats
4/10/2015 10:09 AM
Category: Opinion

One of the topics overshadowed by the changing of the guard in government has been the low number of women in the Cabinet, which has dropped from six to only two.

Taavi Rõivas's first government had six female ministers, and that was seen as a positive landmark after Andrus Ansip began his term with Keit Pentus-Rosimannus the only woman in office, although Urve Tiidus later replaced Rein Lang.

The Reform Party only named one woman for its seven ministries namely, Pentus-Rosimannus, continuing at the helm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Social Democrats have chosen Urve Palo as the Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship while IRL didn’t include any women in its lineup, despite focusing on women such as Viktoria Ladõnskaja and Maire Aunaste in the pre-election ad campaign.

ERR News has taken the liberty to build a women-only government if only to highlight the fact that there are at least 15 competent women in Estonian politics.

Prime Minister – Kaja Kallas, Reform Party
A no-brainer – Kaja Kallas, the daughter of the high-profile political figure and former PM Siim Kallas, is a young, smart and outspoken Reform Party politician who has many similarities with Rõivas. One significant difference, however, is that Rõivas has not had a career outside of politics –whereas Kallas has had years of experience as a partner in a law firm.

Minister of Foreign Affairs – Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Reform Party
Also an easy fit, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus is one of the two women already in government. She previously spent three years as the Minister of the Environment and has connections to the party dating back to 1996.

Minister of Internal Affairs – Maris Lauri, Reform Party
In her brief career as a politician Lauri has shown she is able to follow through with winning policies but also be tough when dealing with sensitive issues such as Greece.

Minister of Defense - Marianne Mikko, Social Democrats
Mikko is not new to either local or international politics, having served as a foreign correspondent with the EU and NATO. She has the experience needed to take charge of such an important ministry.

Minister of Education and Research - Ene Ergma, IRL
With a degree in physics and mathematics, and a career as a professor behind her, Ergma, 71, could be persuaded to return to politics one last time, especially with the Education ministry located in Tartu, where she is currently a council member.

Minister of Justice – Kaia Iva, IRL
Unlucky not to win a ministerial post in the new government, nor even make it to Parliament, Iva was the head of IRL's faction in Parliament in the last term. She was also the mayor of Türi for three years and an MP for eight.

Minister of the Environment – Olga Sõtnik, Social Democrats
She has spoken out on environmental issues and was on the board of Tallinn Waste Center, a waste management company owned by the city.

Minister of Culture – Heidy Purga, Reform Party
Purga, new to politics, has nevertheless worked for ERR for decades, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture. She focused on culture in her election campaign.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure – Urve Palo, Social Democrats
She took up the post in 2014 with the change in government and although she made mistakes early on, she pushed for nationalization of the domestic ferry service and won -- a plan hatched by IRL, which could save the state millions each year in subsidies.

Minister of Entrepreneurship - Anne Sulling, Reform Party
Another relatively new face to politics, Sulling, like Palo, already has had some experience in the ministry since March 2014. Sulling has not made any big mistakes in office so far and has traveled far to find new markets for Estonian food products after the Russian import ban was enforced last summer.

Minister of Rural Affairs – Urve Tiidus, Reform Party
Tiidus would fit in with a number of ministries, but perhaps she would be the most useful speaking on rural affairs, having spent seven years as the mayor of Kuressaare, one of the furthest Estonian towns from Tallinn.

Minister of Finance – Reet Roos, IRL
Roos is one of the richest MPs, having spent a successful career in business before and during her political career. She still sits on a number of company boards.

Minister of Health and Labor – Katrin Saks, Social Democrats
A former minister, vice-chairman of the Social Democrats, MEP, academic, journalist -- and the list goes on -- Saks gets the nod for the health and labor seat for her work on child welfare.

Minister of Social Protection – Viktoria Ladõnskaja, IRL
A minister Ladõnskaja would no doubt invite comparison with Jevgeni Ossinovski, but Ladõnskaja is closer to grass roots, growing up and writing about Tallinn's largest and perhaps the most deprived district, Lasnamäe. She has spent years in both Estonian and Russian-language media.

Minister of Public Administration – Liina Kersna, Reform Party
The best head of a new ministry focusing on state administration is a public servant, and Kersna has seven years of service to Stenbock House, the prime minister's office, under her belt.


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