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Women making slow progress in politics
WOMEN’S involvement in the political arena has taken a downward spiral in recent years, Justice Minister Loucas Louca said yesterday.
He was speaking as part of an awareness campaign by the National Machinery for Women’s Rights calling for the increased participation of women in decision making posts, and especially in municipal and community councils, along with school committees.
“Apart from a low turnout, what concerns the international community is that women’s progress in politics is not always upwards,” said Louca. He pointed out that it appears to “easily be moving in reverse”, as happened in the recent parliamentary elections in Cyprus.
Women make up only 10.7 per cent of parliament in Cyprus, with only six out of 56 seats taken by women, compared to eight in the previous parliament. In local government, only six per cent of mayors are women – two out of 33 – with only 20 per cent of municipal and local council members being women (84 out of 414).
“In areas where there does appear to be an increase in participation the rate is extremely slow,” said Louca.
According to Louca the aim is to get around 40 per cent women’s representation in local government and parliament, which is the goal set by the EU and the Council of Europe.
“Stereotypes and prejudices that equate the public sphere of life with men and the private with women, things such as a glass ceiling, and problems associated with reconciling work with family life, discourage women from claiming positions of power and responsibility in politics,” said Louca.
On a positive note, Louca applauded the fact that three ministers are women as are three director general of ministries, in addition to the current Nicosia mayor being a woman.