Women lawyers often feel the need to adopt masculine behaviours to survive in the sector, Gender Equality Commissioner Josie Christodoulou said.
“More can be done to ensure equality in legal professions, where women today make up a significant proportion of law school graduates,” Christodoulou said while addressing a Nicosia Bar Association’s event on the role and position of women in the judiciary late on Thursday.
“Women are increasingly represented in the profession, while they are gradually entering the profession of judge,” the commissioner added.
“In our country today, of the 11 members of the Supreme Court, five are women.
“However, in conversations I have with women lawyers, they told me that they often feel that, in order to survive in the field, they have to adopt stereotypically masculine attitudes.”
Christodoulou explained this is a common scenario in many male-dominated professions and reflects the fact that gender biases still hold sway, sending the message that there is no room for anything different.
“Progress has been made, but more can be done to ensure gender equality in these professions. Achieving gender equality in the wider legal system requires a comprehensive and sustained effort at different levels,” she added.
Christodoulou said we should approach the justice sector as a whole, placing it under the prism of a gendered perspective.
“Legislations,” she said, “also regulate the culture, principles and values of a state, so the question arises as to whether the laws incorporate the gender dimension to allow for gendered decisions.”
“To cultivate an inclusive justice, free from anachronistic attitudes, we need your contribution. Let’s start an open dialogue from today that will lead to ‘fair justice’ for women,” she added.
The Office of the Gender Equality Commissioner is available to discuss further and cooperate to, among other things, amend any laws that do not implement the principle of equality, with the aim of ensuring that the legal system ensures that all laws and regulations promote the principle of equality.
Christodoulou reiterated that achieving gender equality is a key priority of President Nikos Christodoulides’ administration.
“The effort is of course collective and requires a multi-faceted approach to review laws and practices that do not ensure the principle of equality,” she said.