The president’s statements during an event marking Women’s Day were dismissed on Thursday as paternalistic and unacceptable by a non-profit organisation promoting gender equality.
In an event held at the presidential palace on Wednesday to celebrate International Women’s Day this Sunday, President Nicos Anastasiades said he had “great trust in the capabilities of the female sex”.
But he said it was up to women to choose women as leaders.
“Who is stopping you from choosing and increasing the presence of women in parliament? It is up to you.”
Anastasiades said he promotes women and referred to his “conscious decision” to have two female ministers out of the 16 ministers in the government.
He also said he is determined to assign more women in positions of power under his rulership.
“It is not enough to wait for men to assign rules. What are you doing?” he said in a call to action for women to take over more leadership roles.
He also prompted women to support other women who have leadership positions when they are being unreasonably attacked, instead of remaining silent.
The Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) called the speech unacceptable in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon.
The 20-year-old feminist non-government organisation said ruling Disy’s government under Anastasiades’ leadership has failed women.
“It is time to listen and take on the political responsibility that burdens you.” they said, referring to an initiative group called “It is time” which urges women to strike on Friday against sexism.
Cyprus is “among the countries that rank the lowest in all issues regarding gender equality, specifically women having political power, which you hold,” MIGS said.
According to MIGS, the current government has failed to protect women against domestic violence, or to break the patriarchal norms.
The independent organisation mentioned the failure of the government to create a strategic plan for gender equality with a budget and quality monitoring.
The migration problem was also mentioned focusing on its gender dimension which the state has failed to tackle “contributing to the violence and exploitation” of those women.
“We don’t accept paternalistic sentiments,” from such a state, MIGS said.