General Constitutional Assembly of BPW Cyprus 12/09/2017

On the 12th of September 2017 the General Constitutional Assembly of BPW Cyprus was held for amending its constitution in line with the provisions of the BPW International Constitution, the relevant Cyprus law (as recently amended) and various requirements of its members.

The proposed amendments to the BPW Cyprus Constitution were presented to the members, clarifications were provided and they were unanimously approved.

Also during the asssembly, Ms Efi Michael, the Treasurer of BPW Cyprus, presented the financial report, and Ms Natali Antoniadou was elected Young Representative and member of the Executive Committee

Extracts from the Annual Report presented by BPW Cyprus President Mary Papadopoulou during the Annual General Meeting on 12 September 2017 at the Bank of Cyprus Headquarters, Ayia Paraskevi, Nicosia

Dear Delegates, members and friends of BPW Cyprus,

During the General Assembly held on 8 December 2015, the members of the new Board of Directors of BPW Cyprus committed their collective spirit, minds and hearts to the goals of our Federation.

The highest goals are set by the spirit;
The dreams are created in the mind;
The strength and determination are driven by the heart.

Our first step was to develop a proper and systematic plan. Together we set priorities, goals, and guidelines to ensure that we proceed with respect, solidarity, a spirit of understanding and cooperation, with openness, transparency and goodwill. Our action plan was based on the decisions of the 28th International Congress of BPW International. Right from the start, we realized we would have to fight for things that ought to be taken for granted. We knew it would be an uphill struggle. But we had and will always have faith, strength, courage and determination.

Within the framework of our campaign for Equal Pay for Equal Value Work, we focused on raising awareness and organized interviews with the media as well as face to face meetings with the responsible ministers, political party presidents, the Speaker of the House, and the presidents of the Cyprus Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation, and the Chamber of Commerce. We stressed the importance of balancing career and family duties, and shared responsibilities between men and women.

During a press conference we presented the results of the pancyprian study on gender equality in all its aspects, and good practices in local businesses. The study was commissioned by BPW Cyprus and conducted by the University of Cyprus Centre for Field Studies. It has proved to be invaluable as it documents the true extent of gender discrimination against women in the work environment – and the results were very disappointing.

Armed with these results and the will to affect change, we noted that the time was right for serious efforts to promote gender equality. We published the results of the study as well as a manual of good practices, which serves as a very practical tool for any organization.

This was followed by our «Boards with Women» campaign, and a meeting with the Speaker of the House to discuss the implementation of quotas for women’s participation in decision-making and leadership positions. The campaign also included an event under the title of ‘War and Peace’, The Role of Women in Today’s World. Guest speakers included Ms Mara Marinaki; the Ambassador of Sweden; and the Major General of the UN Peacekeeping Force, Kristin Lund. The success of this event was acknowledged by BPW Europe, who refered to BPW Cyprus as the Champion of the campaign «Boards with Women».

In another public event, «When women take the initiative», four professional women presented their story and their path to their respective leadership positions.

In October 2016, BPW Cyprus participated in the BPW Europe Conference in Zurich, where we organized a workshop under the title of «Women, the driving force behind the economic recovery in Cyprus», with real-life testimonials from women who took bold action against all odds. Their entrepreneurial spirit made a significant contribution to the economy, when it was most needed.

We also participated in the BPW International Leaders Summit in New York and, as a member of the Cyprus Delegation, we attended the United Nations CSW61 under the banner of «Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work». In a parallel event that was coorganized by the Permanent Missions of Cyprus, Belgium Bulgaria, Andorra and Lichtenstein, I represented Cyprus in a workshop on «Sexist Language and Hate Speech».

In cooperation with the Cyprus Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation, BPW Cyprus launched the «Eriphyle, Women of Excellence Award» which not only recognizes exceptional women in the business community, but also nurtures a new generation of woman entrepreneurs by empowering and encouraging them.

In 2017, we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of BPW Cyprus. The special event was attended by the President of BPW International, Yasmin Darwich, government officials, ambassadors, Presidents of other European BPW Federations, and of course our members and friends. In addition to a review of the milestones in our history, this was also the ideal occasion to launch our “He for She” Award, which was presented to Dr Constantinos Stylianides for his selfless contribution to our cancer prevention campaign during the past two years.

Our ongoing annual campaign for the prevention of cervical cancer continued with a pilot programme that provided free Pap tests for women in rural areas. To date, 2035 free tests have been conducted across many rural communities. The scope and positive impact of our campaign were announced publicly in a press conference which was held during the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and was widely covered in all media.

Within the framework of our CSR activities, we visited the refugee camp in the village of Kofinou, as an expression of solidarity with migrants and to raise awareness of their plight. We also participated in a volunteer tree-planting event which took place in a mountain area that was ravaged by forest fires.

To further reinforce our networking activities and join forces with our neighbours, BPW Cyprus proceeded with the application for twinning, actually tripling, of BPW Cyprus with BPW Lebanon and BPW Athens. The first steps of the process have already been completed.

On 18 April 2017, BPW Cyprus took a determined step towards greater gender equality in Cyprus. We proposed giving public procurement preference to companies that have been certified by the National Certification Authority, either as an Equal Opportunity Employer or for the implementation of Good Practices. Such companies should have a measurable advantage during the evaluation and selection process of the preferred bidder for any particular public tender. Our efforts were rewarded on 8 September 2017, with a memo from the Accountant General of the Republic of Cyprus, confirming the implementation of our proposal.

All the above efforts and initiatives, but in particular our campaigns for gender equality and cervical cancer prevention, were officially acknowledged when we received the «BPW Power to Make a Difference Award» in the category of «Excellent Advocacy for Women 2017», which was presented to us during the International Congress of BPW International in Cairo on 25 October 2017. This award was a great honour for us and for our country. It reminds us what a difference we can make, when we work as a team.

Very soon, our e-newsletter will be launched, as a means of sharing and circulating our latest news and developments.

Thank you all for your continuous efforts and support