Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou was awarded the first Gender Equality Award in Cyprus Shipping during a celebratory event on Monday evening in Limassol.

The ceremony, organised by the Deputy Ministry of Shipping to mark the International Day for Women in Shipping, recognised Theodosiou’s leadership as CEO of Tototheo Maritime Group and her former role as president of the Women’s International Shipping and Trade Association (WISTA International).

Shipping Deputy Minister Marina Hadjimanolis, acting on behalf of President Nikos Christodoulides, bestowed the award.

Notable attendees at the ceremony included Josie Christodoulou, the Commissioner for Gender Equality, and Julie Fisher, the US ambassador to Cyprus.

In her welcome address, Hadjimanolis informed the significance of the International Day for Women in Shipping, initiated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to acknowledge the important contributions of women in the maritime sector.

“This year’s theme, ‘Safe Horizons: women shaping the future of maritime safety’, highlights the crucial role women play in enhancing safety measures,” she said, expressing satisfaction with the evolving industry dynamics that have seen an increase in women’s involvement from various positions and ranks.

Cyprus is a strong supporter of gender equality, diversity, and inclusion across all sectors,” Hadjimanolis added, referencing the new National Strategy for Gender Equality, which covers the period between now and 2026 approved by the ministers and came into force at the beginning of the year.

The strategy covers different thematic areas with numerous actions and policies to be implemented within three years.

Highlighting a significant achievement, Hadjimanolis shared that the council of the IMO had awarded the first “IMO Gender Equality Award” to Cyprus’ nominee, Despina Theodosiou, in recognition of her significant contributions to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women in shipping.

Furthermore, Hadjimanolis announced that the Gender Equality in Cyprus Shipping Award would continue to be presented annually to individuals, regardless of gender, who have made significant contributions to the promotion of gender equality in the maritime sector.

She also expressed pleasure that Limassol will host, next October, the Annual General Assembly of WISTA International.

Reaffirming the commitment to gender equality, she concluded that “both the government of Cyprus and myself are dedicated to the principles of Gender Equality that will bring us closer to achieving our vision of a world where every woman can participate and enjoy equal opportunities in the maritime sector.”

For her part, the Commissioner for Gender Equality, Josie Christodoulou, emphasised the need to understand the under-representation of women in the sector and highlighted the efforts to collect and analyse data to address these challenges.

“Through a more comprehensive picture of gender gaps, we will be able to design more targeted policies and actions to promote substantive equality in the sector,” she said.

Christodoulou emphasised the government’s commitment to supporting women in maritime fields, referencing the cabinet’s establishment of 10 scholarships in memory of Christiana Kouta.

“Last year, these scholarships were awarded to women pursuing careers in STEAM professions closely related to maritime and shipping,” she explained.

“This year, they are specifically designated for women planning to start studies in maritime fields exclusively,” she added.

Christodoulou also praised Theodosiou for her key role in advancing gender equality and empowering women during her tenure as president of WISTA International.

“Her leadership has not only made significant strides in gender equality but also brought immense pride to Cyprus and its women,” she concluded.