Cyprus Mail

Concerns over male dominance in wording of public documents

One education ministry report calling on teachers not to be discriminatory used the male version of the word teacher

Women are completely disregarded in public documents with male forms of words for professions always taking precedence over the female forms, chairwoman of the Cyprus Gender Equality Observatory said on Wednesday.
Speaking after findings of a report which scrutinised 635 documents from ministries, municipalities and government services, Maria Gasouka told the Cyprus Mail this was the first study of its kind on the island.
The findings show “the language (in public documents) completely obliterates women as a gender” and even nullifies the very point of the documents.
For instance, Gasouka said, one education ministry report calling on teachers not to be discriminatory uses the male version of the word teacher. The Greek language has a male and female version for certain nouns and public documents always opt for the male option, she added.
“They use male language, men speak on behalf of women…It is a shame because there’s meanings behind words. The male gender overwhelmingly dominates.”
The result of their study has seen the justice ministry promising to adopt the observatory’s guide for all future documents and, according to Gasouka, the ministry has pledged to share the study with other ministries.
Other examples in the study include ‘the recipient’ with its male ending on a defence ministry form requesting leave.
In other examples women were directly linked to lesser professions compared to men such as an Ayia Napa primary school that advertised for two (female) restaurant supervisors.
After a similar study in Greece, the European Commission had invited them to train translators in line with a proper non-discriminatory guide, Gasouka said.
In total, 338 documents from all ministries in Cyprus were examined, 215 documents from 10 municipalities – Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Nicosia, Strovolos, Ayios Athanasios, Ayias Napa, Lapithou, Lakatamia and Kato Polemidia. Among the rest were 33 documents from independent state services such as the auditor general’s office, attorney general’s office and the press and information service.

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