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30-05-2024 16:44

Address by the Commissioner for Gender Equality, Ms Josie Christodoulou, at the opening ceremony of the High-level Conference “Women for the Mediterranean”

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Cyprus and to today's conference titled "Women for the Mediterranean". I heartfully thank the UfM’s Secretary General, Mr Nasser Kamel, and his team for the excellent collaboration. It is also a special moment for me since this collaboration with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and with my friend Anna Dorangricchia, which aimed to host the conference in Lefkosia (Nicosia), began in 2020, in my previous capacity as Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the context of mainstreaming gender in foreign policy. Unfortunately, the pandemic interrupted us.

The fact that, for the first time, the Conference is being held in Lefkosia reflects the thematic pluralism of the Cyprus agenda, which, of course, includes gender equality. The Conference demonstrates, both substantively and symbolically, that gender equality is an important horizontal priority of the Christodoulides government. We seek to mainstream gender into public policies and actions. Our goal is to safeguard women's rights and promote gender equality, in the context of multilateralism, that is, including as part of our country's foreign policy. At the same time, through the Conference, the strategic geopolitical position of Cyprus is highlighted.

Dear friends,

Gender equality is a matter of national interest, given that when women are empowered, society and the economy are strengthened. At the same time, securing women's rights and promoting equality between women and men goes beyond national borders and takes on a regional and international dimension since women face similar obstacles in every part of the globe: discrimination, sexism, violence, inequalities on different levels; all because they are female. It is for this reason that the conference will deal with 3 +1 themes. Specifically:

  1. Women's economic empowerment. Many women continue to work part-time since the "invisible" work of the care economy is still considered their responsibility.
  2. Gender-just climate change. We cannot discuss climate change without taking into account the different problems and needs for women and men that arise from this crisis.
  3. Violence against women and girls. The global pandemic of violence against women continues with 1 in 3 women in the region being victims of male violence. Can it be that it is time to change the narrative and ask ourselves, is 1 in 3 men among us an abuser? We must invest in prevention.
  4. We all know the negative role stereotypical, anachronistic prejudices play and how they shape and influence public opinion. This morning, a group of journalists discussed in a closed session media narratives regarding equality and women's rights. We look forward to hearing their conclusions and suggestions on how the media can contribute to the joint effort.

 All the above themes have been included in the agenda in consultation and collaboration with the UfM, since it is commonly acknowledged that as we go through the year 2024, we still have not reached full and substantial equality. I should also mention that these themes are also in line with both our national strategies on gender equality and combating violence against women.

Dear friends,

The conference will be used as a platform for discussion which will lead to the adoption of the roadmap for implementation 2024-2025, a strategy aimed at activating the 5th Ministerial Declaration of Madrid on strengthening the role of women in society and promoting equality between women and men.

In closing, I would like to underline that it should be widely understood that the approach to gender equality must be holistic and not divided into parts. Even more urgent is to send the message that equality between women and men is not another problem to be solved. Gender equality is the solution which we must finally implement.

Thank you.