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''Women in the Cypriot communities'' book launched
2004-11-16 14:06:30

Nicosia, Nov 16 (CNA) – Cyprus is a multi-communal, where the gender roles are still sharply defined and more education and sensitization is required on women’s issues, said today Dr. Maria Hadjipavlou, during the launch of the book entitled “Women in the Cypriot communities”.

The book, which is available in Greek, Turkish and English, is based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted amongst women within the five communities in Cyprus, namely the Greek Cypriot, the Turkish Cypriot, the Armenian, the Maronite and the Latin.

It was put together by five non-governmental organisations, the Peace Centre, the Armenian Relief Society, the Association of Maronite Graduates, Hands Across the Divide and the Latin Association for Support of Foreign Workers and sponsored by the EU Civil Society programme. A total of 1700 women participated in the research.

Miriam Fuchs, of the European Commission, Adviser Legal Affairs/Project Management said it was one of the most important projects of the EU Civil Society programme, and falls within the framework of cooperation of NGOs from the communities in Cyprus.

She said this project targets all women in all communities, therefore it is a “very comprehensive project on women’s issues”, noting that these issues are very important to the EU as a legislative body.

Fuchs noted that although there is “vast legislation in the area of equal treatment and equal rights, unfortunately we are not yet where you could say that equal treatment has been achieved”.

She praised the “definite concrete sustainability effect that women from all the communities, have come together and have stayed in touch deepened their contacts and will continue to do so”.

Dr. Hadjipavlou said the aim of the book is to raise awareness in the society to regard “women’s issues as important as any other issues in the community”, adding that “we believe that the position of women in any society is an indication of this society’s development in all levels and unfortunately we have to say that we still have a long way in our country”.

She noted that what came out very strongly from the Greek Cypriot women was the issue of violence, be that in family or relationships and so on. This, is perhaps more evident from the Greek Cypriot community since it is becoming more aware of the issue, while in the Turkish Cypriot community, the problem of violence exists but women have not yet identified it.

The issue of discrimination came out of the Armenian and Maronite communities, both stressing that they primarily faced it in education.

Referring to the work of the NGOs which contributed to the book, the Latin Association for Support of Foreign Workers, Jeannine Bayata said their aim is to help all foreigner workers have their own shelter in Cyprus, a place to rest and learn.

Shakeh Kasbarian on behalf of the Armenian Relief Society, said her organisation deals mainly with humanitarian work and noted that it is sponsoring 327 orphans from the Nagorno-Karabach dispute, while Monica Kalakoutis of the Association of Maronite Graduates said their association is new and its main purpose is to make the status of the maronite community known and to strengthen the relationship between the communities of the country, especially after the 1974 Turkish invasion.

On behalf of the Hands Across the Divide, the first registered NGO in Cyprus Mine Yucel said working in this project opened her up to the multi-communal environment of Cyprus noting “we need to cherish and value these communities”, while Magda Zenon said it the group is the only “truly Cypriot women’s group because it is made up of all the women of Cyprus, divided into geographical areas rather than ethnic groups, with the main goal the equality of both sexes within the community and access to resources. At the same time it aspires to encourage cultural peace and multiculturalism”.

Dr. Hadjipavlou said one of the motivation in doing the research was to bring out the multi-communal fabric of Cyprus and move beyond the bicommunal concept, underlining that any research on women’s issues was primarily done in either the Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot communities with no comparative studies.

The book she added, developed a space for women to voice their concerns and “we now have primary material in formulating policy in women’s concerns and issues".

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