TALLINN - The NGO umbrella organization Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation is condemning the decision of the Ministry of Finance to suspend equality projects overnight.
"The decision of the Ministry of Finance to suspend equality-increasing projects overnight does a disservice to Estonia as a whole. Due to the non-operation of suspended projects, it is not the direct target groups of the projects, which are national minorities, women in difficult circumstances and their families, who suffer, but the cohesion of our society in general. At the same time, the legitimacy of the sudden suspension of funding has not been confirmed to date," the Roundtable for Development Cooperation said.
"The Estonian state has made both a political and a moral commitment to ensure equality in the country. This is reflected in our Constitution, in all our national strategies, and in our numerous international commitments. Together with NGOs, we consider it important that policy-making in Estonia continues to be lawful and not based on personal rivalry. The state has been supporting equality-related projects from this application round for years, which clearly shows the state's strategic vision and commitment. The political decision to defund these projects hinders our development towards a cohesive and prosperous society and creates excessive tensions and uncertainty not only in the political landscape but also between NGOs and the public sector," the umbrella organization said.
"Non-governmental organizations are an integral part of democracy and an indispensable partner for state institutions, which offer significant added value to the work of the government, empowering vulnerable target groups and helping to ensure equal opportunities for all in Estonia. In order for an effective strategic partnership between ministries and the third sector to continue, NGOs need strong support in terms of political stability and financial sustainability. NGOs representing a large number of weaker interest groups must not become political playthings," the Roundtable for Development Cooperation said.
The Roundtable for Development Cooperation attaches importance to cross-sectoral dialogue and partnership and expresses its support to the Estonian Women's Associations Roundtable along with partners including the Estonian Association of Kindergarten Teachers, the Estonian Rural Women's Association, the Estonian Women Editors and Journalists' Association, the Estonian Women’s Studies and Resource Center (ENUT) along with partners including Feministeerium, the Estonian Association of Enterprising Women and the Estonian Personnel Management Association PARE as well as the Estonian Human Rights Center.
The Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation brings together 34 Estonian NGOs, all of which are involved in making the world a better place, be it in the field of development cooperation, nature conservation, human rights or world education. The Estonian Women’s Studies and Resource Center (ENUT), the Estonian Human Rights Center and Feministeerium are also members of the Roundtable for Development Cooperation.