The place of women as the driver for a more resilient tomorrow, was at the spotlight of the 4th BPW Mediterranean Symposium, taking place on Friday and Saturday, in Nicosia.
House President Annita Demetriou highlighted the role women can play in contributing to the transformation of the society and the economy, while Niovi Parissinou, Deputy Government Spokeswoman, representing Cyprus President assured that the government is taking concrete steps in increasing participation of women in the labour market, protecting their rights and fostering female entrepreneurship.
Addressing the symposium, Demetriou said that, as the first woman elected to the presidency of the House of Representatives and in full recognition of the high demands and expectations that the said position entails “I hereby reaffirm my commitment to contribute to the cause of protecting, empowering and providing equal opportunities to women across the globe through substantive actions devoid of dry rhetorical rhetoric.”
She also referred to the emerging challenges which require decisive and methodical action to resolve, mainly climate change which threatens the very existence on the planet, noting that “despite some progress in COP26 in Glasgow our citizens demand decisive action is taken in order to achieve tangible results and attain the objective of harnessing the rising global temperature.
“My concern in tackling climate change is that the changes brought about may be done with fairness, respect for human rights and equality in men and women in order to ensure that the wedge in equality in societies are thoroughly addressed,” she said.
Representing Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Parissinou assured of the government’s “practical and organized efforts to ensure increased employment of women in the labour market, the protection of their labour rights and retirement conditions, as well as their training and the subsidizing of youth and female entrepreneurship.”
She referred to the adoption of a National Action Plan for Equality between Men and Women 2019-2023, by the Council of Ministers in September 2019, a project aiming at fostering a culture of equality, by deconstructing established social stereotypes and perceptions of the roles of men and women, recalling that through action taken by the Ministry of Labour, the pay gap percentage in Cyprus was reduced by of 13.7% in 2017, while Cyprus ranked 5th in 2017, among countries that achieved the largest percentage reduction in the gender pay gap in the period 2010-2017, despite the economic crisis and despite the implementation of a strict economic adjustment program.
“The support of the Government is granted, as we seek to take concrete measures to encourage and promote female entrepreneurship and the unlimited potential and prospects it can create in the social and economic development of the country,” she said.
Furthermore, Anu Viks, BPW Coordinator for Europe said “we women as the drivers of the resilient tomorrow we have to use our wisdom and our talents to drive the world to a sustainable future and for the future generations.”
“A resilient tomorrow is well managed green businesses, well managed circular businesses and of course diversity,” she added.
Mary Papadopoulou, President of BPW Cyprus on her part noted that gender equality is not a women’s issue, in fact it is every one issue, as women we must assure that men recognize the fact that everyone wins when women take their place on the table.
“So why aren’t we there yet? What is missing? What is missing is the political will to affect change. This is where we have to focus our efforts and to make our demands known,” she noted.
Marios Tsiakkis the Secretary-General of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the COVID pandemic is paving a new path for us, a more holistic inclusive and caring path, adding that “by nature, these attributes are inherent in women and women are the forces that would drive us to this change.”
He added that the Chamber is “a firm believer in women entrepreneurship as this brings about increased economic activity, contributes to reducing unemployment and economic inactivity and brings about new ideas and innovation that fights gender-stereotypes and introduces an unparalleled entrepreneurial culture that can be an example to all of us.
“Of course, we still have a long way to go to achieve the equal representation of women in the business community. It is imperative therefore all initiatives that will bring us closer to this aim are to be commended and supported,” he concluded.