December 16, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus to the 3rd Committee Mr. Demetris Hadjiargyrou on Advancement of Women and Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women

Although my delegation has aligned itself with the statement of the European Union representative, I would like to make a few remarks on the items under discussion and briefly delineate the main efforts of my government in promoting the advancement of women.

Firstly, my delegation would like to express its deep appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations to introduce and establish a gender-sensitive perspective within every field of work of the Organization. We also welcome the invaluable work performed by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Commission on the Status of Women, which tackle the workload of submitted reports with patience and professionalism.

Madame Chairperson,

Cyprus considers the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as a milestone in the efforts of the international community to promote and safeguard the rights of women worldwide. Although universal ratification of CEDAW by the year 2000, as set forth by the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, has not yet been reached, we consider the steadily rising number of state-parties as an encouraging development and look forward to the day when the convention will be universally ratified without reservations. In this respect, I am particularly pleased to inform you that Cyprus has withdrawn on 28 June of this year its remaining single reservation on Article 9, paragraph 2 of the Convention.

Cyprus welcomes the successful conclusion of the Special Session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century” when the international community took stock of Beijing and gave new impetus to the process undertaken five years ago with the landmark “Fourth World Conference on Women”.

Cyprus fully supports the important role of specialized agencies and national and international NGO’s in defining the problems faced by women worldwide and in assisting the work carried out by the United Nations system. In this regard we also express our support for INSTRAW. Let me also reiterate our support for the networking at the international, regional and national level as a means of mobilizing support and stimulating actions taken by governments, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, for the purpose of enhancing visibility and empowering women socially, economically and politically.

Madame Chairperson,

Based on the Platform for Action and the commitments made by the Government of Cyprus at the Beijing Conference, I am pleased to report that progress has been achieved in all critical areas of concern. These include the following:

  • Legal reform, aiming at the elimination of the few remaining discriminatory provisions and the further safeguarding of women’s rights in all fields of law, has been pursued with very positive results. Of particular significance is the recent enactment of the Law on the Trafficking and Exploitation of Women and Children, as well as the recent amendment of the Citizenship Law, granting Cypriot women equal rights regarding the citizenship of their children.
  • The participation of women in politics has been another priority of my Government. Emphasis has been given to the organization of special training programmes aiming at encouraging and supporting women to enter politics and at creating a friendlier environment for women within political parties. Other measures include the setting up of a non-party lobby group, the sensitization and mobilization of the media to support this cause, as well as the political appointment of women in highly influential posts, including the post of the Ombudsperson, the Auditor-General and the Assistant Accountant-General of the Republic. Besides political appointments, the presence of women at all levels of the hierarchy within the Civil Service has also been increased with their participation, reaching the level of 60% in the Planning Bureau, 18% in the Diplomatic Service and 62% in the Law Office of the Republic.
  • Violence against Women has been another top priority area. Emphasis has been placed on the development of the appropriate legal framework and on measures facilitating its implementation and enforcement. These measures include the setting up of a multi-sectoral Advisory Committee which monitors the implementation of legislation, the promotion of scientific research, the strengthening of co-operation with NGO’s, the provision of support and assistance to the victims and the development of an effective training programme for members of the Police and all other professionals involved in the handling of domestic violence cases. I am pleased to announce that an international conference entitled “Violence in the Family: Plan of Action for the 21st Century” will take place in Cyprus between 26 and 30 of November of this year. The conference is organized by NGO’s with the full support of the Government.
  • Economic independence of women has been pursued through the improvement and expansion of child care facilities, the promotion of equal pay and the legislative improvement of maternity protection, which now provides for sixteen weeks maternity leave, as well as vocational guidance and training. Cyprus, in its capacity as a candidate for accession to the European Union, has been working diligently during the last few years, pursuing the necessary adaptations on laws and policies, in order to comply fully with European Union standards on this issue. Some very important legal instruments are currently under preparation, as part of the harmonization process, including the Law on Equal Treatment and Equal Opportunities, which will provide for the creation of an enforcement mechanism.
  • Finally, let me refer to some important developments in the area of Women and Peace. The women of Cyprus, who for the past 26 years have been facing the tragic consequences of occupation and displacement, are particularly sensitive on matters of human rights and peace. The Women’s Movement has been very active all these years in protesting against the illegal Turkish occupation of part of Cyprus, through mass peaceful marches and in creating a culture of peace on the island through various activities, including the promotion of bi-communal contacts, aiming at exploring ways for peaceful conflict resolution. I would also like to underline the valuable role of Turkish-Cypriot women, as demonstrated in the emerging movement within the Turkish-Cypriot community in support of the efforts for reconciliation and the achievement of a federal solution to the Cyprus problem, a solution that would reunify our country and lead to peace and prosperity for all its people.

Madame Chairperson,

The progress achieved in Cyprus towards the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, has been attributed to a great extent, to the substantial work of the National Machinery for Women’s Rights, which has been at the forefront of efforts to mobilize the entire Government Sector and the Civil Society on issues of gender equality.

The budget of the National Machinery, through which projects and organizations are subsidized, has been increasing considerably during the last few years. Efforts to secure additional financial and human resources and upgrade its status will be continued in order to enable it to perform effectively its future role which goes far beyond the development of women’s specific activities and extends to the inclusion of a gender perspective in all national plans and policies.

Madame Chairperson,

Cyprus remains strongly committed to pursuing all policies and programmes which ensure that women fully enjoy their human rights and are equal partners in shaping its economic, political and social development. This commitment stems from the belief that bringing about equality of the sexes is a necessity, dictated by the long-term requirements of the economic and social development of any country.