President Nikos Christodoulides on Friday said his government has the highest percentage of women in the country’s history.

Speaking at an event for International Women’s Day at the Presidential Palace, the president said that the government, but also individual public officials, are obligated to serve as examples for the cultivation, promotion, and establishment of gender equality.

According to the President, within the 12 months since assuming office, the government has proceeded with enhancing the role of the Commissioner for Gender Equality, institutionalising the Office of the Commissioner and Gender Equality Officers in all ministries and deputy ministries. The coordinating role of the commissioner is expected to be approved by the parliament soon, Christodoulides added.

He also mentioned that the country has achieved the highest ever participation of women in its history, particularly in the composition of the cabinet, which stands at 39 per cent, and in the Administrative Boards of Semi-governmental Organisations, reaching 40 per cent. He further highlighted the recent signing of a policy declaration by all members of the government on zero tolerance for sexist and harassing behaviours.

Regarding actions promoted by the government, Christodoulides referred to the submission of a bill proposal for the gradual expansion of compulsory pre-school education from the age of four, the increase in maternity leave, the extension of parental leave, and the strengthening of paternity leave.

The state is moving forward with the creation of new social care structures and the expansion of existing ones. It has also initiated the creation of new and the upgrade and expansion of existing multidimensional centres for children, as well as special centres for child care. By the end of 2024, it is expected that 11 new facilities and two 24-hour care centres for adults with long-term care needs will be completed, while a housing subsidy plan for elderly care facilities will be announced within the first half of the year.

As regard single-parent families, it was stated that the relevant legislation will be amended so that the income of the spouse or partner is not taken into account in the payment of the single-parent allowance. Furthermore, to support families, the government has increased the honorarium for large families for all income categories, provided a one-time summer allowance for children in families with three or more children regardless of income, expanded the tuition and meal subsidy scheme for children up to 4 years old to all child allowance recipients, increased the child allowance by 5 per cent, with the aim of gradually restoring the 9 per cent cut in 2013, and included students from large families in the Child Allowance, with 50 per cent of the child allowance paid out.

Explaining the aim of the “substantial reforms” the president highlighted the goal to support women “in reconciling professional and family life” and create conditions for women to be able to participate in the political and social life.

Regarding the gender pay gap, Christodoulides said that the labour ministry will proceed with special incentive schemes for the employment of unemployed women. He added that the agriculture ministry has prioritised ensuring uninterrupted and gender-neutral funding in all agricultural sectors.

Referring to the issue of violence against women, the referred to the implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women, with the training of 75 frontline healthcare workers dealing with cases of gender-based violence. The training is scheduled to be completed within the first half of this year.

“Addressing gender discrimination is the responsibility of all of us, especially men, and requires a collective effort to promote gender equality,” he noted.