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Emergency — break glass

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The glass ceiling of gender disparity in Cyprus has started to crack, but it is still a long way from breaking.

On March 8, instead of celebrating the occasion marking International Women’s Day, young basketball players felt morally defeated.

Not because their team may have lost a game but because the national squad’s parent body, the Cyprus Basketball Federation, decided to slash their budget, ending the dreams of young girls playing in international tournaments.

This is from an organisation whose board comprises mainly men and just one woman.

That is how it goes in a male-dominated society, where the macho men’s football clubs get the lion’s share of state funding, whether they deserve to or not.

The rest of the sports disciplines, including athletics, struggle for the rest, while women’s sports hardly even get some of the crumbs left over.

Stadia are built, with all their crookedness, to satisfy the egos of politicians and fans, most of whom are politically aligned or motivated, and count as votes for the next election.

Violence is tolerated, more money is poured in, and no one wants to deal with the elephant in the room.

In Cyprus, football is not the gentle sport.

Only when an occasional sportsman, or sportswoman, achieves international success in sailing, track and field or cycling is there talk of gender and racial equality.

Women’s football in Cyprus is far more advanced than in many other nations.

Yet, this has only been achieved by a handful of sports officials or the occasional progressive-minded club president.

More women should stand up and make their voices heard. Not just in sports.

Most of the female supporters of President Nikos Christodoulides have gone quiet after he backtracked on his campaign pledge for equality in his Cabinet.

He missed that target and is now rushing to appoint more women to public boards or as senior government officials, be they junior ministers or commissioners.

Perhaps, the only ones who can overcome this barrier are women themselves.

Popular MP and much-respected House Speaker Annita Demetriou, who has made leaps in reviving the image of the parliament, may take the chair of the former ruling Democratic Rally party.

If so, this will be a first for a major political group in Cyprus, where female leaders have been limited to minor or fringe parties.

The new Health Minister had hoped to become Director General of that ministry.

Better than that, she’s become the boss.

It was the same for the Education Minister, who headed the teacher training academy for years.

But why shouldn’t we have a female minister of finance or defence? Are these reserved only for men?

Let’s not forget that some of the biggest failures in Cyprus are thanks to male politicians.

It’s not just a matter of selecting women as candidates.

Women also tend not to vote for women either.

Only when women themselves break the glass ceiling will they be able to climb through it.