Women bring immense benefits to diplomacy, Commissioner for Gender Equality Josie Christodoulou said on Thursday, highlighting that gender mainstreaming in foreign policy provides small countries like Cyprus with significant opportunities to influence global affairs.

Speaking at the event titled ‘Women in Diplomacy: Shaping Foreign Policy, Security, and Defence’ held at the University of Piraeus in Greece, Christodoulou said that in 2024, women still lack equal representation in decision-making forums and do not enjoy equal rights.

“Women and girls represent half of the world’s population, and therefore half of its potential,” she said.

“Women bring immense benefits to diplomacy. Their leadership styles, expertise, and priorities broaden the scope of issues under consideration and enhance the quality of outcomes.”

Christodoulou stressed the importance of male allies who support gender equality and recognise women’s contributions to diplomacy.

She recalled that President Nikos Christodoulides, while serving as foreign ministry in 2019, appointed a gender advisor to integrate gender perspectives into Cyprus’ foreign policy.

“I had the honour to serve in this position with a mandate to mainstream gender in foreign policy. This is how it all started,” she said.

Christodoulou explained that the initiative to promote gender mainstreaming in foreign policy was part of broader reforms within the foreign ministry, “signalling that Cyprus values thematic pluralism and prioritises gender equality as a fundamental goal of its foreign policy.”

“Women in diplomacy and foreign affairs can contribute to global goals, have a voice in international forums, and build strong bilateral and multilateral relations with like-minded countries,” she said.

Christodoulou then acknowledged global progress in promoting women’s and girls’ rights over the past few decades but noted that progress has been slow, therefore adding “that now is the time to bring the issue to the forefront with urgency and determination.”