GENDER EQUALITY IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE OF CYPRUS
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In this research, I investigate the reasons for women’s underrepresentation in the political sphere of Cyprus as it is interpreted from the experiences of eight women politicians from a wide political spectrum. The interviewees were asked to assess the lack of women in politics, the gender equality policies from the UN and EU and mostly the gender quotas strategy. The thesis starts by introducing the participants in details indicating their diversity. From the very start the participants made clear the main factors of women’s underrepresentation in politics. The impact of culture and stereotypes, the ineffective ways in which policies are being implemented by the government and the lack of state infrastructures regarding childcare can prevent women from getting involved with politics. To unravel and examine each factor separately, I started the analysis by examining the Cypriot culture from a historic perspective and the social roles of Cypriot women since the 20th century. That lead me to dive more into what prompted the shifting of social roles throughout history. Women altered their roles during conflicts from solely mother/wives to agents of peacebuilders and then strikers. By taking the role of strikers, they functioned in a peaceful manner to state intensively their demands. Demands emerging from the frustration towards the government of Cyprus and its failure to implement ratified policies from the UN and EU aiming for gender equality. The interviewees in this research interpreted gender equality policies created by the UN and EU, making explicit that it’s debatable if and how gender quotas will succeed, since the strategy can stigmatize women and portray them as the vulnerable group in need of assistance. Lastly, the interviewees provided insight into the political life as a woman and a mother, pointing out the various barriers they had to overcome. The thesis indicates a set of various causes for women’s absence in the decision-making process which are hard to be resolved solely with policies implementations.