The not-so-inspiring cabinet reshuffle, best seen as another round of musical chairs, has done little to drum up domestic support from the ruling DISY party. It has also alienated a significant part of the female electorate, by slashing in half the number of women in the Council of Ministers.
The petty excuse given for this decision backfired on the new government spokesman on his first day on the job. He tried to give a positive spin to the President’s gaffe by relying on inappropriate statistics of how many women have been placed and where.
Then again, what could he say, considering this administration’s hesitation to recognise the potential of women in the government?
For sure, more women have been appointed to public office, but this has been out of obligation, while men continue to be preferred not on merit, but rather on issues of political persuasion and promises given to the party that backs him.
It’s a shame that senior government appointments coincided with the first Cypriot woman Commissioner taking office in a highly gender-balanced cabinet in Brussels, while the only point of consolation, due to resignations and the reshuffle, two female MPs joined the House, after one left.
Reading between the lines of the President’s speech when inducting his new Ministers, it is clear that the soon to be established Junior Ministry for Culture, will probably end up with a woman in charge, because, after all, women in Cyprus should only be limited to “family duties”, “the kitchen” and “some cultural stuff”.
This condescending mentality should stop as most of the disasters in Cyprus are linked to male-dominated decisions.
Without wanting to go too far back in history, let’s not forget the worst decisions in parliament that defied the Eurogroup regarding the banking crisis in 2013 came from a male-controlled House.
The stock exchange boom and bust of 1999-2000 was a result of male-driven greed, and the lack of progress in reunifying the island lies in the hands of men, despite the more productive results by female negotiators, compared to their male predecessors.
On the other hand, are gender quotas the solution? Hardly, because many women have excelled in the private sector on their own merit and continue to do so, often threatening to topple male colleagues, purely on their capability to manage an organisation better or navigate out of a crisis.
It all boils down to education. If starting from their own family, young people continue to see women as the inferior half of the household, then boys and girls will grow up in this negativity, that trickles through to other aspects of life, education and society.
Perhaps, the solution lies in the problem itself. Women have tolerated male leadership in the political parties for too long, but when it comes to supporting a female candidate, even at the lower level of a school board, there is no female solidarity.
Women should aspire to be at the forefront of decision making with a healthy number of candidates for us to choose from. Only then will they get the right numbers of voters and support to break the chain of male-dominated stupidity.