from Women Around the World

Women This Week: Equality in Estonia

Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post covers January 22 to January 29.
Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas addresses the press following her oath of office.
Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas addresses the press following her oath of office. Janis Laizans/REUTERS

This week's post was compiled by Elena Ortiz, intern with the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Estonia Ushers in First Female Prime Minister

This week, Kaja Kallas became Estonia’s first female Prime Minister. Alongside President Kersti Kaljulaid, the Baltic country now has women serving as both the Head of Government and Head of State. Kallas is a member of the center-right Reform party and her nomination marks the end of a government headed by Juri Ratas and the far-right EKRE party, which recently collapsed in a corruption scandal. Her historic appointment also ushers in six female cabinet members, including Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as Minister of Finance and Eva-Maria Liimets as Foreign Minister. At the top of Kallas’ policy agenda is combatting the COVID-19 crisis, supporting marriage equality and restricting investment in the fossil fuel industry.

Abortion Banned in Poland

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In the fall of 2020, tens of thousands of Poles flooded the streets to protest pending legislation on a near-total ban on abortion, marking the largest demonstration in Poland since the fall of communism in 1989. Despite continued protests and public backlash, the abortion ban took legal effect this past Wednesday. Under the new statute, abortion will only be legal in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the mother’s life, provoking fear among critics that women will resort to illegal and dangerous procedures.

Biden Administration Launches White House Gender Policy Council

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris launched the first ever White House Gender Policy Council to oversee U.S. policy development on the advancement of gender equality. The council will work with agencies across the U.S. government to address gender policies in the U.S. and globally.  President Biden also signed an executive order revoking the Mexico City Policy, which previously banned U.S. aid to organizations that providing referrals or counseling for abortion services.

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