Relatives and friends of female non-commissioned officers in the National Guard protested outside the presidential palace on Sunday over what they called unacceptable proposals submitted by the ministry of defence to meet their demands for more equal treatment.
During the event they handed over a resolution to the president. Then, in an event outside the offices of ruling party Disy they handed over a resolution to party chief and presidential candidate Averof Neophytou.
The protesters called the ministry of defence’s proposal “offensive”, and said they would continue their protests in a more forceful way until the injustice is fully redressed.
They said the ministry proposed a salary increase of €70 as a counter-proposal to their requests, for their professional advancement, on the basis of equality with their male colleagues.
The proposal was rejected as “totally unacceptable and not responding to the enormous damage” they have suffered from gender discrimination, both in relation to their access to permanent jobs and their professional advancement.
“For the enormous damage that non-commissioned women officers have suffered, the ministry of defence without a trace of shame offered them the paltry amount of €70. What we are telling them through today’s protest is ‘Shame on you’. Female Non-Commissioned Officers are women with dignity and did not ask for any alms,” the resolution said.
They added they will no longer tolerate the “mockery, ridicule and unacceptable attitude of the minister of defence”, adding they demand the immediate resolution of the whole issue.
They called on the President of the Republic of Cyprus to intervene personally to immediately address the situation.
The case concerns 195 women who joined the National Guard in 1993, 1995 and 1997 but remain in lower ranks than they are qualified for.
Compared to male colleagues hired during the same period, the female officers did not climb up the ranks as quickly or as easily despite being more qualified or experienced, they have argued.
Some of the female officers have since been promoted but are still outranked by their male colleagues.
Initially, women who enlisted in the army earned a promotion after two years of service, which was later expanded to six years.
On the contrary men were promoted instantly, as they had already completed two years of army service.