Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou on Sunday said working mothers have a “leading role”.

Speaking at an event in the Paphos village of Emba, from whence his own mother’s family hails, he said working parents have a “central role”.

Highlighting the government’s support for working mothers, he pointed out that the government extended maternity leave from 18 weeks to 22 weeks for first-time mothers, and that state benefits for parents have also been “strengthened”.

He added that the government’s maternity is now paid to beneficiaries within 15 days of application.

In addition, he said, “the framework through which childcare is provided must be strengthened”, and that more such measures will be implemented later this year.

Also speaking at the event was Emba social voluntary association chairwoman Chryso Panayiotou, who said “the position of and respect given to mothers must be strengthened, with even more support for motherhood and childbearing.”

She added that, “mothers have an incredible role in society and conceal an incredible power. Their mission is not simple because they consciously and subconsciously shape the characters of their children and shape their souls.”