December 18, 2017

Statement by Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Agenda item 3: “Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”

United Nations, March 13, 2015 

Madam Chair,

My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union and would like to make some remarks in its national capacity.

Madam Chair,

The transformation of the Cypriot economy and society since its independence in 1960, coupled with specific policies, the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, the drive for social advancement and the activism of women have led to significant progress on the status of women in Cyprus. Today, twenty years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and fifteen years after the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, Cyprus has come a long way in the promotion of gender equality, the empowerment and the realization of the human rights for women and girls.

Legislative and political reform over the past decades guided by international legal instruments has culminated in the establishment of the National Machinery for Women’s Rights in 1994, which comprises government and civil society representatives and constitutes a landmark in accelerating the promotion and implementation of policies for the advancement of gender equality and the elimination of discrimination against women.

Currently, progress is evident in all critical areas. Women have full access to tertiary education, while the annual number of female university graduates is often higher to that of men. The employment rate of women has increased and reconciliation of work and family life has become easier. Specialist health care units were created to attend to the health needs of women. The human rights of women and girls are safeguarded with specific policies and legislation, while young girls are educated on issues of health and gender equality. Targeted policies promote the empowerment of women, such as programmes for women’s entrepreneurship. Other policies aim to the promotion of the empowerment and the rights of specific women’s groups, such as migrant women, or inactive women work force.

Furthermore, the problems of violence against women and trafficking in women are issues of high priority for my government. Relevant legislation, policies, as well as projects for the care of victims are being implemented. In addition, the most recent law against trafficking in human beings provides, inter alia, for the criminalization of the use of services provided by victims of trafficking.

Madam Chair,

In an increasingly interconnected world, my country is fully aware of the need to respond to the challenges of migration. To this aim, my government has initiated and is implementing targeted policies for the promotion of the human rights and the well-being of migrant women and girls. Cyprus is guided in all its aforementioned policies by international legal instruments, by the work of the Commission on the Status of Women and by UN Women, which we highly appreciate.

Yet, a lot remains to be done. Deeply rooted stereotypes as regards the role of women in society and in the family still persist, affecting the professional life of women, the type of careers women pursue, while the burden of caregiving is still not a shared responsibility to the degree it should be. The gender pay gap still remains, while representation of women in politics, decision- making, in high positions in the workplace and in the media remains to be improved.

Madam Chair,

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the UNSC resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Cyprus, a country with a substantial part of its territory under foreign occupation for more than 40 years is well aware of the consequences and the burden of this abnormality, especially for women. Cypriot women have endured, among others, internal displacement, poverty, loss of members of their families and until today have missing relatives. Yet, Cypriot women, both in Cyprus and abroad, have fought for the realization of human rights for all and have been active in the civil society for the promotion of peace and reconciliation. My government recognises the significant role of women in the prevention and the resolution of conflicts and, as such, women play an important role in the negotiations and peace-making process in Cyprus.

Madam Chair,

Cypriot women have been traditionally recognized and admired for their attributes of determination, dynamism, resilience and dedication. As the status of women in Cyprus has progressed in the last decades, we have witnessed how much society and the economy has to gain from women being able to fully realize their potential. We are determined to continue to promote gender equality, the empowerment and the human rights of all women and girls until they are fully realized.