March 2, 2024

Statement by the Deputy Minister for Social Welfare – 62nd Session of the Commission for Social Development

Statement by the Deputy Minister for Social Welfare of the Republic of Cyprus, H.E. Ms. Marilena Evangelou Serdari – General Discussion of the 62nd Session of the Commission for Social Development

United Nations, 6 February 2024

Madame Chair,

Cyprus fully aligns with the statement delivered by the European Union.

First, allow me to extend our warmest appreciation to you, the Members of the Bureau and United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, for the preparation of  the 62nd Session of the Commission for Social Development.

Madame Chair,

Halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda, progress on more than 50 per cent of targets of the Sustainable Development Goals is insufficient,  while around one third has stalled or gone into reverse, according to the Sustainable Development Goal of 2023, including targets on poverty and hunger as well.

Poverty is a complex and multidimensional challenge, worsened by factors such as instability and fragility caused by conflicts, climate change and pandemics.

In this regard, urgent action and comprehensive reforms are needed to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Just, inclusive, and effective social policies, should be at the heart, not only of our commitments, but also of our actions.

Cyprus stands firmly behind 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, committed to strengthening even further its social policies, in line with the priorities of the European Pillar of Social Rights, by modernizing and upgrading the role of the Social Welfare Service. Social systems need to be ready to respond to the Green and Digital transition by promoting equal opportunities and poverty eradication for all.

Allow me to mention some examples from Cyprus’ broad social protection policies. Policies such as the Guaranteed Minimum Income, the Minimum Wage, the General Healthcare System, and the Long-Term Care Services are examples of comprehensive, inclusive, and quality social services, promoting social justice.

Fostering social inclusion and combating poverty in all its forms has become even more important, taking into consideration the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) is considered adequate and responds to the basic needs of the beneficiaries, including nutrition, housing, healthcare and basic services. The Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare has recently launched reforms so as to make GMI  more efficient, just and prompt. The most important reform is the strengthening of the Social Intervention Programme of the GMI, so as to increase the probability of employment of beneficiaries through education and skill building programmes.

With gender equality at the forefront of Cyprus’ policies and in order to reconciliate family and professional life, we have extended since September 2023 the Scheme for the Subsidization of Tuition for children attending kindergartens and nurseries, achieving more than 50% uptake for children up to 4 years old, in line with the Barcelona targets for 2030, facilitating parents to join the labour market, trusting their children in a quality safe environment.

Further steps to empower families inclusion through the reconciliation of professional and family life, are being implemented. In 2022, the Social Insurance Law was amended providing for paid parental leave benefit, and the extension of the coverage of paternity benefit to all fathers, irrespective of marital status.

Education is also very important in achieving a sustainable future. It should be noted that school attendance in Cyprus is almost universal, securing equal  opportunities for all children, without discrimination.

Cyprus is fully committed to leave no one behind, and this is why, through the National Disability Strategy 2018-2028, we aim to address the social exclusion of persons with disabilities, supporting them in achieving full and effective participation across all sectors of society.

Madame Chair,

Towards the Summit of the Future 2024 and the World Social Summit in 2025, we need to renew our commitment for  social cohesion and solidarity with a human rights-based and gender responsive approach, taking also into consideration fundamental freedoms and labor standards. Cyprus reaffirms its determination to make all effort to implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you.