Legislative and policy framework
Article 28 of the Cypriot Constitution of 1960 enshrines the principle of equal treatment and the prohibition of any form of direct and indirect discrimination based on gender. In Cyprus, the promotion of gender equality through policy and legislation is a relatively recent phenomenon. As a result of Cyprus’s harmonisation with the EU acquis communautaire, a significant number of legislative measures related to gender equality were passed. Gender mainstreaming is primarily influenced by EU directives and international conventions for the promotion of gender equality, such as the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).
Cyprus does not have an overall national law on gender equality but does have sectoral laws on specific aspects of gender equality in areas such as employment, equal work and pay, access to commodities and services, gender-based violence and domestic violence.
Currently, there is no government strategy for gender equality. However, there is a National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2019-2022, along with several sectoral action plans on specific aspects of gender equality. The horizontal promotion of gender mainstreaming is one of the main activities of the National Action Plan for Gender Equality. Regarding its implementation, an ad-hoc committee was set up aiming to produce a Guide on Gender Mainstreaming in public policies. The ad-hoc committee is comprised of representatives of the MJPO, the Gender Equality Committee in Employment and Vocational Training, the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration, the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsperson) and the Office of the GEC. Action plans, both at the national and sectoral levels, do not include specific targets that are measurable against indicators; instead, they include priorities and objectives.
There is a policy commitment to gender mainstreaming in decision No. 61.649 of the Council of Ministers (2005). Based on this framework, the National Machinery for the Advancement of Women ensures that gender mainstreaming is incorporated into all stages of the utilisation of the funds granted to Cyprus from the Structural Funds. It is responsible for evaluating and certifying that projects funded by the Structural Funds comply with national and EU legislation and policies on gender equality. The promotion of gender mainstreaming in the public administration is one of the main priorities of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
One of the most fundamental developments in Cyprus is gender mainstreaming in peace and security. Currently, the Technical Committee on Gender Equality operates separately from other technical committees (including the two communities discussing Cyprus’s reunification) rather than integrating gender into the technical committees concerned with security, territory, property, and constitutional arrangements. The Committee’s operation was suspended in August 2017, following the collapse of the UN-supported International Conference on Cyprus at Crans-Montana, but later re-established.
Governmental equality bodies
A Council of Ministers’ decision ensures the government’s structure for gender equality with legal standing. Cyprus’s 1985 ratification of CEDAW provided the context for the establishment of a permanent government body for women’s rights and gender equality, with the Permanent Central Agency for Women being set up in 1988.
The National Machinery for the Advancement of Women (NMWR) has been responsible for gender mainstreaming, among other tasks, since 1994. It is situated within the Ministry of Justice and Public Order (MJPO).
National Machinery for the Advancement of Women (NMWR) structures
- Council for Women’s Rights Chaired by the Gender Equality Commissioner (GEC) and composed of 19 women’s rights non-governmental organisations and trade unions
- National Committee for Women’s Rights Composed of 69 organisations promoting gender equality, including all members of the Council for Women’s Rights and all public officers responsible for women’s rights within the ministries and agencies
- Inter-ministerial Committee on Gender Equality Composed of public officers who are focal points responsible for women’s rights within all ministries and the Planning Bureau
- General Secretariat Provides administrative and scientific support for the advisory institutions of the NMWR through the Gender Equality Unit
The Gender Equality Unit (GEU) of the NMWR plays a leading role in the overall promotion of gender equality at a national level and implements gender mainstreaming through participation in several multidisciplinary committees of other ministries. This participation aims to include a gender perspective in the formulation and implementation of policies dealing with family, children, violence against women, trafficking, social inclusion, employment, demography, and women’s entrepreneurship. The Gender Equality Unit is made up of three officers.
The NMWR also hosts the Inter-ministerial Committee on Gender Equality, made up of 11 gender equality officers representing each of the ministries. This committee is located within the Ministry of Justice and Public Order (MJPO) and is the main structure responsible for formulating, coordinating, and promoting gender equality policy, including gender mainstreaming.
The Gender Equality Commissioner (GEC) was established in 2014 is an agency and serves as the chair of the Council for Women’s Rights of the NMWR. Although housed in the Ministry of Justice together with the NMWR, the GEC is, however, under the authority of the Presidency. At the end of each year, the Commissioner submits an annual report with comments and recommendations directly to the President of the Republic. The Gender Equality Commissioner includes a staff of three.
Despite the establishment of various governmental bodies focused on gender equality, there is no formal mechanism for consultations with these bodies for the promotion of gender equality through policies, laws and programmes that do not directly involve a gender equality policy area. There is only a procedure for ensuring that gender mainstreaming is incorporated in all stages of the utilisation of the funds granted to Cyprus from the Structural Funds.
Independent equality body
The independent equality body in Cyprus is the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (ombudsperson) which was founded in 1991. The ombudsperson is an extra-judicial mechanism that has jurisdiction to investigate complaints of gender discrimination in the areas of equal pay and equal treatment in employment and vocational training, as well as in accessing goods and services in the public and private sectors. The legal basis of the ombudsperson is Law Νo. 42.1/2004 on Combating Racial and Certain Other Discrimination (Commissioner) Law.
The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (ombudsperson) has 10 officers. The personnel of the ombudsperson institution work on the whole spectrum of the institution's mandate. The amount of work dedicated to equality issues is approximately 25% of the office of the ombudsperson's total work, whereas time spent on gender equality issues is less than that.
Consultation with this independent body usually takes place when new or existing policies, laws, or programmes are discussed before a parliamentary committee. The opinion of the ombudsperson is valued by the members of parliament and considered in the final decision on the issue at hand.
The original Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women was set up in 2006. A 2011 decision of the House of Representatives consolidated two separate parliamentary committees into the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women. This consolidated parliamentary committee examines law proposals and issues relating to equality and human rights. During its sessions, the committee frequently invites the Gender Equality Commissioner and the Ministry of Justice to report on progress on gender equality issues, including progress on the implementation of national action plans, as well as to discuss legislative proposals.
Consultation with civil society
Civil society in Cyprus participates in several committees and bodies focused on gender equality as established by law:
- The Council of the National Machinery for Women's Rights (NMWR) consists of 20 women’s rights organisations. An additional 70 NGOs are members of the National Committee. The National Committee is the largest of the four bodies of the NMWR. The NMWR also participates in several multidisciplinary committees under other ministries dealing with issues such as family, children, violence against women, trafficking, social inclusion, and employment and contributes substantially to ensuring a gender perspective in the formulation and implementation of relevant policies.
- Civil society organisations also participate in consultations and committees that occur in the fields of domestic violence, gender-based violence, and trafficking and exploitation of human beings.
Women's rights organisations and NGOs furthermore regularly participate in consultations in the process of preparing gender equality reforms, such as on national action plans and legislation relating to women's rights and gender equality. The Gender Equality Unit and the Commissioner for Gender Equality often involve women's rights organisations and NGOs in the implementation of activities such as research, training, the preparation of guidelines and manuals, as well as awareness raising.
Methods and tools
Gender impact assessment and gender budgeting
There is no obligation on public bodies to undertake an ex-ante gender impact assessment when drafting laws, policies, plans or programmes. Similarly, impact evaluation is seldom used as a method for gender mainstreaming. In addition, there is limited action on introducing gender budgeting in the public sector. However, action aimed at securing the adoption of gender budgeting in the future is underway. A Gender Mainstreaming Handbook and Action Plan for public administration were approved and announced at the end of 2018 and training of a limited number of selected public administrators followed in 2019. While the Handbook and Action Plan include elements of gender budgeting, this has not been supported by the adoption of a clear policy on gender budgeting in the public sector and the development of expertise and know-how. As a result, it cannot be claimed that gender budgeting is understood or implemented at any level.
Training and awareness-raising
There have been measures to promote the use of gender-neutral language. In the framework of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Equality between Women and Men 2014-2017, the Office of the CGE and the NMWR organised 5 two-day seminars on the Elimination of Linguistic Sexism in the documents of public services. Furthermore, the NGO Cyprus Gender Equality Observatory (CGEO) conducted a survey entitled ‘Overcoming Linguistic Sexism in the documents of the public administration of the Republic of Cyprus’, with the financial support of the NMWR, as well as a practical guide. The guide aims to highlight linguistic sexism in public documents and at the same time proposes practical ways of deconstructing it. The guide was adopted by a Ministerial Decision (83.337) and the Ministry of Justice and Public Order prepared an action plan for the implementation of the recommendations set out in the guide. The decision also requires all ministries, semi-state organisations, local authorities, and other public sector organisations to cooperate vis-à-vis the implementation of the action plan.
The Cyprus Academy for Public Administration implements training modules, such as Gender Equality in Employment and Vocational Training in the Public Service, Combating Sexual Harassment and Harassment in the Workplace, and Gender Mainstreaming in Public Policies in the framework of the implementation of the National Action Plan on Gender Equality. However, public administration staff are not legally required to undergo gender-related training sessions and only some of the ministries participate.
Though there is no legal basis for the collection of sex-disaggregated data, most of the surveys conducted by the Cyprus Statistical Service (CYSTAT) do collect data disaggregated by sex due to EU regulations and thus most datasets are indeed sex-disaggregated. CYSTAT is responsible for collecting and publishing all sex-disaggregated data produced, although there is neither a formal mechanism nor a designated unit responsible for sex-disaggregated statistics. Examples of publications reporting and analysing sex-disaggregated data are ‘The Statistical Portrait of Women in Cyprus’ (2012), ‘The Woman in Cyprus in Figures’ (2017) and ‘The Life of Women and Men in Europe’ (2018) . However, such publications are disseminated on an ad-hoc basis and there is no specific website or section of a website dedicated to gender statistics.
CYSTAT also systematically includes gender as a variable in most of the surveys regulated by the EU on employment, education, health, living conditions, and income; for example, the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), Labour Force Survey (LFS), Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) and Adult Education Survey (AES). The national population census also includes sex-disaggregated information. Where the survey data are available by gender, the disseminated results reflect this. Dissemination methods are at the discretion of survey project managers, with common methods including websites, print publications and information bulletins.
Indicators for monitoring progress on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the EU, under Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action
Indicators for monitoring progress on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the EU, under Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action
This section analyses the scores achieved by Cyprus for data collection in 2021 for the four officially agreed-on indicators on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming to monitor progress on Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action. It also analyses scores under an expanded measurement framework which includes the role of independent gender equality bodies and assesses the effectiveness of efforts to disseminate statistics disaggregated by sex. Institutional mechanisms refer to national machineries that implement, monitor, evaluate, and mobilise support for policies that promote gender equality and gender mainstreaming. All indicators and sub-indicators are available on the Gender Statistics Database here, including metadata about how the scores are calculated.
For Indicator H1 on the status of commitment to the promotion of gender equality and considering only the governmental commitment in line with the officially adopted indicator, Cyprus scored 8.0 out of a possible 12, above the EU average of 7.2. It lost the most points on sub-indicator H1e on accountability of the governmental gender equality body where it lost 3.0 points out of a maximum possible score of 5 in part because there is no national strategy on gender equality in place and the relevant action plan does not include targets.
Under an expanded measurement framework which includes sub-indicator H1f on the mandate and functions of the independent gender equality body, Cyprus scored an additional 1.5 points, out of a possible 3 points. It lost 1.0 point because the mandate of the independent gender equality body is gender equality combined with other non-discrimination areas, rather than exclusively focused on gender equality. The overall score for the expanded H1 indicator was 9.5 out of a possible 15, above the EU average of 9.1.
Indicator H2 analyses the personnel resources of the national gender equality bodies. For sub-indicator H2a, regarding the governmental body, Cyprus scored 0.5 out of a maximum score of 2 which was lower than the EU average of 1.0, because there were 5-10 employees working on gender equality in each governmental body. For sub-indicator H2b, regarding the independent body, Cyprus’s score was 0.0, while the EU average was higher at 0.8 because there were 0-5 or more employees working on gender equality in the independent body. For both sub-indicators, the maximum 2 points was awarded where the number of employees was over 100 as an indication of the body being sufficiently resourced.
Indicator H3 relates to gender mainstreaming. Here, Cyprus scored 4.0 out of maximum possible 12, which was below the EU average of 5.1. Cyprus lost 4.5 points, out of a maximum possible 6, on sub-indicator H3c on the commitment to and use of methods and tools for gender mainstreaming because, in part, it does not have a legal obligation to undertake ex-ante gender impact assessment or gender budgeting.
Under an expanded measurement framework which includes sub-indicator H3d on consultation of the independent equality body, Cyprus scored 4.5 points out of a maximum of 12, which was also lower than the EU average of 5.4. Under this sub-indicator, Cyprus lost 1.5 points out of the maximum of 2, because the independent gender equality body is only consulted by departments or ministries on the gender impact of new or existing policies in some cases, although those consultations lead to relevant adjustments in the majority of cases.
For Indicator H4 on the production and dissemination of statistics disaggregated by sex, Cyprus scored 0.0 points out of 6 points, against an EU average of 3.4, because it does not have a commitment to collect data disaggregated by sex or a relevant website dedicated to disseminating gender statistics.
 National Action plan on Gender Equality 2019-2022 (2019) http://www.institutionforgenderequality.gov.cy/equality/equality.nsf/All/0276C88652C8317AC225850500403411?OpenDocument
 Demetriou, C., (2019) Gender in the Cyprus negotiations, PRIO. PCC Report 3/2019 https://www.prio.org/publications/11300
 UNECE (2015). Cyprus National Report on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000) in the context of the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 2015 https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/Gender/publications_and_papers/Cyprus_FINAL_REPORT_BEIJING_20.pdf
 Ombudsman – Republic of Cyprus (n.d.) Equality and Anti-Discrimination Agency http://www.ombudsman.gov.cy/ombudsman/ombudsman.nsf/page07_gr/page07_gr?opendocument
 Republic of Cyprus (2019). National Report on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) Beijing+25 https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/CSW/64/National-reviews/Cyprus.pdf
 Cyprus Statistical Service (n.d.) Cyprus Statistical Service (CYSTAT) https://www.cystat.gov.cy/en/default
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 Mediterranean Institute for Gender Studies on the National Mechanism for Women's Rights (2017). Gender Mainstreaming Guide to Public Policy (Μεσογειακό Ινστιτούτο Μελετών Κοινωνικού Φύλου για τον Εθνικό Μηχανισμό για τα Δικαιώματα της Γυναίκας (2017). Οδηγός Ένταξης της Διάστασης του Φύλου στις Δημόσιες Πολιτικές)
 Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (2012). The Policy on Gender Equality in Cyprus. For the European Parliament Directorate-General for Internal Policies (Μεσογειακό Ινστιτούτο Μελετών Κοινωνικού Φύλου (2012). Η πολιτική για την ισότητα των φύλων στην Κύπρο)