The government is planning on increasing maternity and paternity leave and increase the number of women in government, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday addressing the 6th BPW Mediterranean Symposium.
The symposium examined the topic of Women as Protagonists in a Game Changing Economy.
Christodoulides said the government is planning on increasing maternity leave from 18 to 22 weeks, and paid paternity leave to eight weeks, “which can supplement maternity leave”.
At the same time, he said that the government, through the deputy ministry for social welfare, is implementing policies that will allow women to balance professional and personal life through the creation of childcare and structures for the elderly.
“As a father of four daughters myself, I am fully aware that active, fair and equal opportunities throughout all areas of society do not really exist. This results in the creation of negative stereotypical views and actions being imposed on women,” he said.
Pointing out the lack of women in leadership positions, he said that it is imperative to ensure that the population as a whole is represented.
“We need more women in decision making, at all levels. Women bring a different perspective to the decision-making table than that of men,” he said.
“This is one of the reasons that I have appointed a total of 44 per cent of women in my government. And this is the highest percentage since 1960 in Cyprus and one of the highest in the EU.”
The president said that by 2024 the amount of women in government is going to be 50 per cent.
“I strongly believe that it is high time that we work in a holistic manner to really promote gender equality,” he said.
In this framework, he added that the governance programme includes a number of horizontal substantial policies that aim to promote equality between women and men. “The goal can be achieved by ensuring quality education for all and equal access to all areas including health and work,” he said.
He referred to the issue of preventing violence against women and girls, and protecting victims, including those of domestic violence.
The Office of the Commissioner on Gender Equality has also recently signed an MoU with the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry to work strategically to promote gender equality in the business sector, he said.
The president also announced a plan to appoint an Ambassador for Gender Equality, following the example of the EU and other member states.
In addition, the role of the Gender Equality Commissioner will be strengthened. “Since taking office in March 2023, we have also embarked on elaborating a new strategy for Gender Equality 2024-2026 in collaboration with all ministries and deputy ministries. In doing so, each Ministry and Deputy Ministry has appointed a focal point for Gender Equality,” he said.