Male-dominated cabinet sparks gender equality fury

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Hurt by criticism over the lack of women in government, President Nicos Anastasiades denies he failed to consider the principle of gender equality when reshuffling his cabinet that now has only one woman.

The reshuffle saw the departure of Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastassiadou leaving the Anastasiades’ administration with one female minister out of 11 in the cabinet, and one female deputy Minister out of two.

Despite prominent women taking to social media to ridicule the government over its male-biased, the Presidential Palace tried to defend its actions.

In a statement, the government suggested it has done its bit for gender equality among decisionmakers in public office.

“Governance of the country is not exercised solely through the Council of Ministers, but through the Commissioners, as well as the semi-state organisations,” said a statement from the Presidency.

The Presidential Palace said: “The President of the Republic, has made his choices exhibiting sensitivity both to the presence of younger personalities to ensure dynamism and an age balance, but also to the presence of women”.

It pointed out “the Labour Minister (Zeta Emilianidou) and the Deputy Minister of Shipping (Natasa Pilides), along with 50% of commissioners, and 36% of all board members of semi-state organisations are women”.

The announcement does not mention, however, how many of the female board members of these organisations hold executive positions.

Former foreign minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis tweeted her disappointment over the non-female presence in the Anastasiades administration.

“Total disappointment, though, to be frank, I did not expect more! The past six years of this Presidency have left their mark in the male-dominated government & the lack of any substantive participation of women in decision-making & in the peace process! This country deserves better!” said Marcoullis.

The government seemed more concerned about the age gap of its cabinet rather than the gender divide.

“The average age of board members of the semi-state organisations is just 47.5 years, while the average age of people appointed by the President, including the cabinet, is just 48 years”.

A government damage limitation exercise backfired when the soon to be government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos told state radio that “Ms Emilianidou is such a good minister that she is capable of representing all women”.

Former EU Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou tweeted her dismay at Koushos’ crass remark that Emilianidou could represent all women: “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.…”

Koushos tired to backtrack but was rather clumsy in his efforts to clear the air.

“Although it is desired, women present in the cabinet is not necessary. As far as I am concerned, it is not a matter of numbers and percentages, but a matter of the role, a matter of being capable to take decisions”.