“An equal society brings about progress and prosperity for all and has a major economic impact, as it can tap onto the unique talent and potential of every single individual in the work force.” Annita Demetriou, President of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus and President of the Democratic Rally (DISY) of Cyprus
It is with great privilege that I preface this special edition on ‘Women Igniting Leadership’ in Cyprus. It is safe to say that in recent years significant steps have been made in terms of tackling gender stereotypes and reinforcing the role of women in all sectors, including business and politics. This special edition pays tribute to the multiple achievements of women leaders in Cyprus and presents an excellent opportunity to highlight and celebrate the significant contribution of women in all aspects of economic, political, and social life.
In today’s turbulent world, where uncertainty and instability appear to reign, women have the insightfulness and perseverance needed to deal with the multifaceted challenges that lay before us and to work collectively aiming at stability and security, throughout society.
But first and foremost, we must all join forces to dismantle outdated behavioural patterns that still persist within our societies. It is these exact patterns that have been dictating for decades that women should be content to limit themselves to ‘traditionally female roles’ and it is these very same stereotypes that have been breeding domestic violence and subsequently a “forced” exclusion of women, from leadership positions.
The key to fuelling our societies as well as economies forward lies in the struggle for equality. An equal society brings about progress and prosperity for all and has a major economic impact, as it can tap into the unique talent and potential of every single individual in the work force.
Promoting gender equality, which is essentially a matter of human rights, democracy, and justice, are among my top priorities, as a young politician and the first female President both of the House and recently, of my affiliated political party. The House of Representatives has approved important legislation for the criminalisation of sexism, harassment, stalking and combating violence against women. Moreover, I have spearheaded an amendment to the Law ratifying the Istanbul Convention, by which “femicide” has been penalised as a crime.
Despite the progress achieved, however, a lot remains to be done. Cyprus still ranks 22nd within the EU on the 2022 Gender Equality Index. Women remain under-represented in politics, leadership and decision-making positions. The gender dimension must therefore be horizontally considered and further promoted in all governmental policies and especially in the economic and political spectrums. I am however hopeful that, through coordinated and committed efforts of all vested parties concerned, we shall soon be able to remove all visible and invisible hurdles that prevent women from reaching their full potential.
In the meantime, I take particular pride in prefacing this special edition that showcases bright examples of women’s empowerment; female role models who have worked tirelessly to overcome implicit and explicit prejudices and obstacles and to ultimately excel in their respective fields. They are an inspiration for us all!
Annita Demetriou is the first woman and the youngest to hold the position of President of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus. In March 2023, she was also elected as President of the Democratic Rally (DISY) party.
She was first elected as a member of parliament in 2016 and then re-elected in 2021. She holds a university degree in Social and Political Sciences as well as a postgraduate degree in International Relations and European Studies.
Annita Demetriou is an ambassador of the global network of women politicians – Women Political Leaders (WPL) and represents Cyprus in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). She participates in the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments (EUSC), in the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament of the Council of Europe, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth as well as in the Conference of Presidents of Parliaments of Small European States.
She aims for and strives towards the advancement of parliamentary work, the modernisation and digital transformation of the functioning of the House of Representatives as well as the strengthening of the communication with the citizens – within an interactive framework. Her priorities include, among other issues, the promotion of human rights, the eradication of gender stereotypes, the protection of the environment and the strengthening of parliamentary diplomacy.