Lawmakers on Monday expressed contentment with the fact that the women’s Under-16 national basketball team will take part in an upcoming international competition after having been previously excluded.
At the House human rights committee, MPs heard how the head of the Cyprus Basketball Federation (CBF) succeeded in getting the women’s U-16 team included in the European youth championships this summer after contacts he held with the International Basketball Association known as Fiba.
CBF head Andreas Mouzourides said his actions followed on from the initiative taken by the Gender Equality Commissioner and the parents of female basketball players.
Speaking to the media later, committee chair Irini Charalambidou (Akel) described the outcome as satisfying.
“We are especially pleased that our girls in U-16 basketball have been vindicated, and they will represent Cyprus in the European championships. Let me say it had saddened us that, despite the fact these girls gave their all and had distinguished themselves last year, going up a category, this year they risked relegation simply because they would not be taking part in these games.”
Charalambidou added that all stakeholders had come together to “redress yet another injustice in sports, where we had gender-based discrimination. All this belongs to a bygone era.”
For her part, Disy MP Rita Theodorou-Superman, said the matter concerned the ongoing exclusion of the women’s U-16 team from Fiba competition – in contrast to the two men’s U-16 and U-18 teams.
“This incident has happened again and again in recent years. From our discussion today, it transpired that this sort of discrimination exists in federations other than basketball.”
Dipa MP Alekos Tryfonides noted that the case in question was not an isolated one. One pretext for this double standard related to budgetary concerns.
“There does not exist equitable distribution of funds between male and female teams. We had also heard something outrageous, namely that women’s teams could not have the same success as men. As a result of this discrimination, girls miss out on career opportunities both here and overseas.”
Gender Equality Commissioner Josie Christodoulou said she would work alongside the Cyprus Sports Organisation to promote actions to stamp out gender-based discrimination across the board in athletics.
Her office is in talks with the Cyprus Sports Organisation so that the relevant law is amended. A bill to end discrimination in sports has been drafted and tabled to the House education committee.
Mary Charalambous-Papamiltiadi , director of the Cyprus Sports Organisation, promised they would push for legislation making the eradication of discrimination in sports mandatory, rather than voluntary as it is now.
She also proposed the gradual introduction of ‘gender budgeting’.
According to the Council of Europe’s widely used definition, “gender budgeting is an application of gender mainstreaming in the budgetary process. It involves conducting a gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process, and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality. In short, gender budgeting is a strategy and a process with the long-term aim of achieving gender equality goals.”