Speakers highlight role of women in decision-making during Nicosia event
08:27 - 13 February 2024
“To ensure Cyprus’ security and stability at home and in the Eastern Mediterranean region, we need Cyprus’ best, both men and women, working on the most challenging questions – in your Ministry of Defense, your National Guard, your police,” US Ambassador to Cyprus, Julie Fisher, has said.
Addressing, along with Commissioner for Gender Equality, Josie Christodoulou, and academics, an event at the University of Nicosia, on the subject of “Women in Diplomacy: Shaping Foreign Policy, Security & Defense” the US Ambassador spoke about the challenges women had to overcome over the last 50-60 years to be able to participate in the decision-making processes in these fields. She underlined the importance of UN Resolution 1325, saying that this calls for increased representation of women at all decision-making levels, in national and international institutions, related to peace and security.
Speaking on 12 February, Ambassador Fisher noted that “we need more women willing to step up to lead on issues of hard power if we want to see more women leading in the future” and added that it is “imperative to recognize the contributions women make in traditionally male-dominated spheres, like arms control, force posture, military command, and intelligence gathering.”
Regarding security and stability issues, Fisher underlined Cyprus’ “exceptional reputation in the realm of maritime search and rescue” while noting that “the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Larnaca hosted the collaborative efforts of over 20 nations in late 2023 to plan safety contingencies in light of the regional conflicts.”
In her opening address, Commissioner for Gender Equality, Josie Christodoulou, noted that this is an area in which “small countries like Cyprus, have the opportunity to have a disproportionately big impact” and even “become cases of best-practice for other states to follow their path.”
Christodoulou mentioned that currently in Cyprus, out of the 166 diplomats, 55 are women, while 10 women head the Diplomatic Missions and, for the first time in the history, a woman heads the Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the UN, in New York. Also, four women lead key departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cush as the Political Affairs Directorate, the General Secretariat of European Affairs, the Cyprus Question, Turkey, British Bases and Maritime Policy Directorate, the Protocol Directorate.
The Commissioner also spoke of the “critical role” of the UN Resolution 1325, saying that “women bring immense benefits to diplomacy, the issue under discussion” and adding that “the absence of more women in the decision-making ranks has a significant impact as global economic, health and regional insecurity is affecting women and men in different ways with women being those who are hit the hardest.”
Senior Vice Rector of the University of Nicosia, Constantinos Phellas, said in his introduction that our institutions and societies cannot function properly, without everyone’s participation. He underlined that closing the gender gap is not just a matter of human rights, but also a matter of efficiency and economic productivity, as women are half the talent that is available out there.
Dr Constantinos Adamides, Associate Head of the Department of Politics and Governance in the University, noted in his address that there is still a lot of room for growth for women in these fields and mentioned that some countries need more of women’s participation than others.
Petros Petrikkos, PhD Candidate presented certain milestones for Cyprus concerning UN resolution 1325, such as the first gender studies program at a university in 2012, the inauguration of a Gender Advisor post at UNFICYP in 2017, the inauguration of Gender advisor position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2019 and the National Strategy for Gender Equality in 2024.