Gender gap widens in Cyprus

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Cyprus is nowhere near reaching gender equality in politics, as the gap has widened, with the island ranked 21 among the European Union 27.

According to a note sent to Parliament by the Commissioner for Gender Equality, Josephina Antoniou said, Cyprus, in 2021, was in the bottom six of the EU for gender issues.

The disappointing absence of women in Cyprus politics is partly due to government positions remaining male-dominated.

Following the recent death of Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou, who former government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos replaced, women in the cabinet declined to just two out of 12 ministers.

Of the country’s five deputy ministers, only one is a woman. More or less, the same percentages apply to the whole government apparatus.

Based on statistics sent to Parliament by the commissioner, the percentage of women in positions of power in the EU is 55%.

In comparison, it is a lower 30% in Cyprus, expected to decrease further in 2022.

Although Annita Demetriou was elected Speaker of the House, female representation in Parliament is still very low.

Out of 56 MPs in Parliament, only eight are women or 14.3%, compared to 48 men or 85.7%.

The previous composition of the House of Representatives included 11 female deputies, or 19.6% of the legislative body, which was the highest it has ever been in the Republic’s 62-year history.

Concerning the public service, the commissioner said 10 men and only one woman hold the permanent secretary role.

Moreover, the 16 Councils of state Organisations are led by nine men and seven women, while of their total 131 members, 96 (73.3%) are men, and 35 (26.7%) are women.

Armed forces

On Monday, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities revisited the issue of women’s participation in the armed forces and their access to promotions.

The issue arose after a group of 199 women who joined the National Guard as permanent non-commissioned officers in 1993, 1995 and 1997 but remained in lower ranks than they were qualified for appealed to the justice system.

Compared to male colleagues hired during the same period, the female officers did not climb up the ranks as quickly or easily despite being more qualified or experienced, their lawyer argued.

The women now hold the rank of staff sergeant while their male colleagues are master sergeants and warrant officers, outranking them.

Some of the female officers have since been promoted to the rank of master sergeant but are still outranked by their male colleagues.

Both the Commissioner of Administration and the Commissioner for Gender Equality have said that this is a significant violation of the principle of equality, calling on the Ministry of Defense to take corrective measures.

The ministry told the commissioners it would wait for the administrative court’s decision before taking any measures.