Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides on Friday gave her recommendations on ending unlawful gender discrimination against female officers in the National Guard.

An investigation carried out following complaints submitted to her by female non-commissioned officers, concluded the complainants been discriminated against on the basis of their sex, in terms of access to employment and promotions.

The ombudswoman said she had communicated the findings of the investigation to the director general of the defence ministry, adding that consultations had been held at her office on October 12 and 31 attended by representatives from the defence ministry, finance ministry and the department of public administration and personnel, as well as the complainants’ lawyer.

“The defence ministry should immediately take steps to implement its proposal to grant an additional increment in pay scale for all women NCOs from the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th ranks, including those from said ranks who were appointed to the post of Sergeant and subsequently left the service for any reason,” the ombudswoman said, continuing that with a view to the above being implemented from January 1, 2023, the defence and finance ministries must make provisions to be included in their budget.

Sex discrimination against the army officers hit the headlines earlier this year as they claimed that male non-commissioned officers were promoted over a decade earlier than female ones, despite having the same qualifications, duties and seniority.

In a protest last Sunday, female non-commissioned officers of the National Guard demonstrated outside the presidential palace over what they called unacceptable proposals submitted by the ministry of defence to meet their demands for more equal treatment.

The protesters called the ministry of defence’s proposal “offensive” and said they would intensify their protests until the injustice is redressed.

The ministry had proposed a salary increase of €70 in response to their requests, which was rejected as “totally unacceptable” and inadequate, and out of proportion to the setback they have suffered from gender discrimination, in relation to permanent job access and professional advancement.

“For the enormous damage that non-commissioned women officers have suffered, the ministry of defence without a trace of shame offered 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 do not ask for alms,” the protesters’ resolution said, calling on the President of the Republic to personally intervene to address the situation.

The case concerns 195 women who joined the National Guard in 1993, 1995 and 1997 but remain in lower ranks than those for which they are qualified.

While some female officers have since been promoted, they still outranked by their male counterparts.

Initially, women who enlisted in the army earned a promotion after two years of service, which was later lengthened to six years.

On the contrary men were promoted instantly, having already completed two years of military service.