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Christodoulides promotes gender equality amidst criticism

Christodoulides, and Josie Christodoulou, gender equality
President Christodoulides and Josie Christodoulou, the current Commissioner for Gender Equality

President Nikos Christodoulides on Friday lauded his own commitment to gender equality two weeks after being slammed for reducing women’s participation in the cabinet as part of a government reshuffle.

In statements to mark the launch of the ‘National Strategy for Gender Equality 2024-2026’ approved by the cabinet on January 11, he said the aim is to promote gender equality “on a practical level and not just on a theoretical level through nice words”.

It was, he said, a basic principle and a value in every country that wants to be counted among democracies and every country that respects basic human rights and therefore, “is high on the priorities of our government, as well as me personally,” he said.

One of Christodoulides’ pre-election promises was to appoint women to half of the cabinet, which fell short. In the recent cabinet reshuffle, he reduced his female ministers by appointing one but sacking two, leaving only two female ministers. There are four women deputy ministers, but they are not officially members of the cabinet.Christodoulides, and Josie Christodoulou, gender equality

Thursday, Christodoulides said, marked five years since, as foreign minister, he began working with Josie Christodoulou, the current Commissioner for Gender Equality, where she advised him on a voluntary basis on gender mainstreaming in foreign policy. He said important work was done during that time and has led to the national strategy.

“Within this context and in an effort to strengthen and speed up and promote more effectively in action and not in words – because I have to say, for some, it has become a bit fashionable certainly, today’s ceremony is not just a communications event, it is an essential event for more effective promotion of gender equality,” Christodoulides said.

To make his point that action not words counted, the president added: “The horizontal implementation of the gender dimension has already begun to materialise, to be promoted more actively and more substantially through semiotic positions and practices. At the same time, targeted actions and policies are promoted with the aim of establishing equality between women and men in practice, and deconstructing – and I consider this as the most important first goal – any gender stereotypes and prejudices that take us years back”.

He then invited his ministers, deputy ministers and commissioners to sign and adopt a policy statement on gender equality.

This declaration, he said, was a pledge to promote equality between men and women and to prevent any form of gender discrimination. “With this institutional commitment, from now on zero tolerance should be shown to any sexist and harassing behaviours on the basis of gender when it comes to the operation of each ministry, deputy ministry and offices of commissioners,” Christodoulides said.

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