Former top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini, Norwegian Foreign Minister and Cypriot women with leadership positions were among the speakers of an event organized by the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing declaration for women rights.
In an event in Nicosia entitled “Women in Diplomacy”, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides spoke about the Ministry’s efforts to include women’s rights into Cyprus’s foreign policy, following the appointment of Gender Equality Advisor Josie Christodoulou.
“Gender Equality should be included and mainstreamed as a horizontal priority in foreign policy. We cannot discuss and implement policies that do not take into account the different needs of women and we can’t do so without women around the table”,
He added that the Ministry drafted a framework of actions, which includes targeted and specific activities towards mainstream gender in foreign policy and had started creating the necessary synergies and collaborations at the bilateral and multilateral level, in order to promote gender equality and women’s rights.
“The efforts to mainstream gender in the foreign policy of the Republic of Cyprus are taking shape. We have extended our cooperation with a number of like-minded countries and our long-term aspiration is for Cyprus to become an active player in the formulation of policies on equality between women and men at regional, European and international level”, he said.
In her own speech, former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis referred to statistics that indicate under-representation of women in leadership positions, but also in diplomacy internationally and particular in Cyprus, while referring to important milestones for the participation of women in leadership positions in Cyprus.
“We need more women leaders and more women in diplomacy. We need the inclusion and the utilization of all the world’s talent so as to say with confidence that the Beijing promise will, at last, be delivered”, she said.
Foreign Minister of Norway Ine Soreide pointed out that foreign policy and national security were male-dominated areas when the idea for women was to engage in softer political issues such as family relations and women’s issues. As she said “we need the participation of women among all domains” and added that she was believing in strong female participation in absolutely every field.
She also noted that women should be given the confidence to apply for these top jobs.
In her speech, she also referred to the practices followed by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to boost gender equality.
Cypriot EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides referred to the EU’s commitment to gender equality, saying she was proud to be part of the first team of European Commissioners led by a woman, in the most gender-balanced Commission College ever.
She also said that for the first time, there is a stand-alone portfolio on equality. At the beginning of March, she also noted, the Commission will adopt a new Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2024 that will address a number of critical issues that currently undermine equality.
“Gender mainstreaming is also being reinforced across other EU policies. In the area of health – which is my responsibility – we are committed to gender equality and anti-discrimination in all our actions and policies”, she pointed out.
Former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini shared her experiences as a woman in diplomacy and politics. As she said, the most common question she was asked was how she could have such a job and at the same time have children. “They would never ask a man with children the same question”, she said and suggested the increase of paternity leave from day one. That, as she said, would increase women’s participation in diplomacy, but would also help men in family life.
She also spoke for the role of media to transfer the image of women in diplomacy, in order to encourage the younger generation and send the message that girls could become everything they want without sacrificing family life.
She also argued that when women are involved in the negotiation table, there are fewer conflicts and it is easier to resolve disputes.
Mogherini also thanked the Cypriot Minister Nikos Christodoulides for this initiative for women, especially in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.