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Defence ministry under fire over female promotions

women slodiers

Lawmakers on Monday harangued the military for what they called ongoing discrimination against female personnel, urging the defence ministry to end ‘gender-based’ inequality and immediately abide with recommendations issued by the ombudswoman.

The matter concerns some 200 non-commissioned officers (NCOs) hired in different series back in the 1990s and who, according to a recent report by the ombudswoman, were not promoted as fast as their male colleagues.

This is despite the fact that in 2016 the relevant regulations were amended, on paper putting an end to this dual-track treatment. But to this day, the ombudswoman said in her report, the military treats female NCOs differently, impacting both their rank as well as their pay grade.

A representative of the ombudswoman said in parliament that the defence ministry, despite acknowledging these issues, has not taken steps to remedy the situation. She stressed that the National Guard ought to bump up the pay brackets for the women in question, fairly and in line with their years of service.

Gender Equality Commissioner Iosifina Antoniou said the military is rife with unequal treatment between men and women. And she criticised the armed services for not taking corrective action now but instead waiting for a judgement from the administrative court, where such a case is being heard.

On behalf of the defence ministry, Christina Petroudi replied they are ready and willing to take steps, but first they want to see how the administrative court will rule on the matter. And Lieutenant Miltos Theodorou, of the defence ministry’s legal department, explained they did not wish to act in advance of the court ruling, in case matters are further complicated.

For her part, Akel MP Irene Charalambidou noted that female officers face other problems as well, such as bullying. But an official from the National Guard General Staff said that no such complaint has been filed.

Charalambidou spoke of a continuing injustice in the army.

“It won’t do if we wait for these women to retire, and then solve the problem,” she said.

A demonstration in support of the 200 female NCOs took place over the weekend outside the presidential palace. The demonstrators handed a resolution to a palace official, calling for “the immediate addressing of the prohibited discrimination based on gender at the workplace.”

 

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