Cyprus Mail

Just a third of north’s workforce are women

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 Just a third of the north’s workforce are women, according to the latest figures released by the north’s Statistics institute.

The statistics, revealed as part of the institute’s “Household labour force survey” for 2023, showed that precisely 34.7 per cent of the 148,211 people registered as employed in the north are women.

That figure is below the Republic’s figure of 45.5 per cent and the global average of 39.5 per cent, while albeit higher than Turkey’s figure of 32.7 per cent.

The relatively low level of women in the workforce is also reflected in positions of power in the north, with there not being a single female member of the north’s cabinet since August.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail about the matter, Turkish Cypriot ‘MP’ Fide Kursat, of opposition party the CTP, said the data “shows that women are not in a fair position in terms of society and not in a fair position in terms of job opportunities.”

Women are a sort of outcast, away from the education sector, away from the health sector, and away from decision-making bodies and politics,” she said.

With this in mind, she said the Turkish Cypriot community “has a cultural structure derived from the patriarchal family order.”

“Women face difficulties when trying to take part in society and the economy. It is obvious that women experience cultural, economic, and political equality due to the gender roles assigned to women,” she said.

She added that one of the driving reasons behind women facing difficulties in entering the workforce is that they are more likely to care for the elderly and children at home and do unpaid domestic work.

This factor in turn means that Turkish Cypriot women are more often financially dependent on their spouse or their families, further entrenching the existing gender inequality.

This issue, she said, is exacerbated in rural areas, where there are less career opportunities in general.

To help boost women’s employment and prospects, particularly in rural areas in the north, she said “it is necessary to support rural development and particularly women’s initiatives … and to create and implement policies based on and furthered by state investment in this direction.”

However, she noted, “at this point, unfortunately, the government is rudderless, and that has not gone unnoticed.”

She made a point of stressing that women should be encouraged into the world of business, and noted that in recent years, women have been “increasingly involved in entrepreneurship and small businesses” in the north.

“The place of women in the workforce has undergone significant changes over time. Nowadays, women participate in the workforce more actively than in previous years. However, this increase is not sufficient,” she said.

Delving into policy ideas on how the situation can be improved, she said women in the north should be further encouraged to pursue an education and develop their skills, and that, in turn, companies should adopt internal policies which support gender equality.

These, she said, would include ideas such as flexible working hours and increased remote working opportunities, “which can help women better balance their professional and family lives.”

She also called on the north’s aurthorities to “ensure women receive equal pay with their male counterparts … as this will also contribute to women’s economic empowerment.”

“These measures could contribute to the creation of a more fair and equality based business environment, and encourage the empowerment of women in the workforce,” she said.

In addition to the gender imbalance, the statistics also showed that just under a quarter of the north’s workforce is employed in the public sector, which is broadly in line with the Republic’s figures.

In addition, they showed that 76.1 per cent of workers in the north, including more than 90 per cent of female workers, work in the services sector.

The official unemployment rate was given as 5.1 per cent, marginally lower than that of the Republic, which is 5.8 per cent.

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