House President Annita Demetriou called for the creation of an “environment which encourages women” to participate in public life on Friday.
She was peaking on the issue of equality and multiculturalism in public representation at the European conference of speakers of parliaments of the European Council’s member states in Dublin.
“To promote inclusive representation in national parliaments, and environment should first be created that encourages rather than discourages women, youth, and other underrepresented groups from participating in the public sphere,” she said.
To create this, she said, “the highly toxic and uncontrolled social media environment where elected representatives are targeted every day.”
She said the current toxic environment had been brought about by the spread of fake news and populism in recent years and called for a pushback against the trend.
“The conditions should be created to better promote, encourage, and support young people and other underrepresented groups in public life, as well as highlighting positive role models,” she said.
To this end, she said parliaments have a particularly important role to play and encouraged the various legislatures of Europe to “adopt the appropriate legislative framework to fight against, among other things, sexual harassment, domestic violence, hate speech, and misinformation.”
On a more targeted level inside legislatures, she said their internal operating rules, such as their codes of principles and ethical guidelines, should also be strengthened with the aim of encouraging underrepresented groups to participate.
She also emphasised the importance of cooperating with independent bodies and taking corrective action to ensure these issues are moving in the right direction.
In addition, she praised the conference for its work in “promoting equality and fighting discrimination for a more inclusive society” and said the Cypriot parliament would support every effort made to this end.
“We should build more resilient and democratic societies which open doors and offer equal opportunities for those who dare to pursue their dreams,” she said.