Gender issues started to receive attention in Estonia in the late 1990s upon the ratification of international conventions and with preparation for accession to the European Union (EU).
The legal framework for gender equality is contained in both the Estonian constitution, which provides, inter alia, that everyone is equal before the law and that no one shall be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, and in the Gender Equality Act 2004, which defines equality of women and men as a fundamental human right and provides for gender equality to be mainstreamed into all areas of social life.
It was at the start of the 2000s that the first gender-mainstreaming initiative, organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs, took place. The aim of the project was to improve understanding of gender equality and to use the dual-track approach to achieve equality and develop specific methods and tools, in particular on gender impact assessment, for the promotion of gender mainstreaming. In the following years, several EU-funded projects focusing on gender mainstreaming were developed and continue to be implemented.