Cyprus’ Defence Ministry came under fire for ‘gender-based’ discrimination against female personnel, as evidence emerges it follows a dual-standard policy for promoting women through the ranks.
A representative of the Ombudsman and the Gender Equality Commissioner told MPs that the military has yet to take corrective action despite having previously acknowledged this dual treatment.
Ombudsman Maria Stylianou-Lottides discovered that 199 non-commissioned female officers (NCOs) hired in the 1990s were not promoted as fast as their male colleagues.
The Ombudsman’s office said this practice continues even though in 2016 the law was amended.
But the military treats female NCOs differently, impacting their rank as well as their pay grade.
The military had acknowledged this inequality but failed to remedy the situation.
Gender Equality Commissioner Josephina Antoniou said the army is rife with unequal treatment between men and women.
Antoniou argued that the military should update the pay grade for the women in the same manner as their fellow male officers, in line with their years of service.
She criticised the armed forces for not taking corrective measures but instead prefers to wait for the ruling of an administrative court that is currently reviewing one of the cases.
The Defence Ministry’s Christina Petroudi said they are willing to take steps, but first, they want to see the outcome of the administrative court.
Chair of the House Human Rights Committee and AKEL MP Irene Charalambides said: “A blatant violation of the Principle of Equality in the military, according to reports from the Commissioner.
“They are pushing the issue down the line, waiting for these officers to retire”.
Charalambides said the 199 female officers had been discriminated against because of their gender.
“It is a problem that dates back decades, and it will be unfortunate if the corrective measures are taken after these women have retired.
“The Defence Ministry has acknowledged the injustice and should resolve the matter at once.”
The MP said the military waiting for the ruling of an administrative court is not valid.
“The ministry should have acted long ago, providing remedy based on the report issued by the Ombudswoman.”
On Saturday, a demonstration supporting the female NCOs took place outside the Presidential Palace.
The demonstrators handed a resolution to a palace official, calling for an immediate end to gender-based discrimination in the country’s armed forces.