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Stella Souliotis (1920 - 2012), The First Female Lawyer, Minister, and Attorney General of Cyprus

Stella Kakoyianni was born in 1920 in Limassol. She was one of the four children of Sir Panayiotis Kakoyiannis, a lawyer, and the sister of the internationally acclaimed director Michael Kakoyiannis, the distinguished lawyer Gogos Kakoyiannis, and Yiannoulla Kakoyianni, the President of the Michalis Kakoyiannis Foundation in Athens.

After completing her elementary studies in Cyprus, she attended the Saint James Secretarial College in London. During World War II, she joined the Women's Royal Air Force along with 60 other women. She served in Cairo, where she had the fortune to meet and collaborate with the renowned English author Lawrence Durrell, with whom she worked in the same department. She left service in the autumn of 1946 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. Subsequently, she studied law at Gray’s Inn in London, where she met her future husband, Dr. Dimitrios Souliotis. They had a daughter, Dr. Alexia Soulioti.

After graduating in 1951, she returned to Cyprus and practiced law in her father's office in Limassol until the declaration of the Republic of Cyprus in August 1960. At that time, she assumed the position of Minister of Justice under the presidency of Archbishop Makarios, becoming the first woman in Cyprus and globally to hold this office.

Following the intercommunal disturbances in 1963, she also took over the Ministry of Health. In 1970, she relinquished both ministerial portfolios, and in 1971, she assumed the position of Commissioner of Legislation, a newly established institution that gained a solid foundation during her term, which concluded in 1984.

Simultaneously, she served as an advisor to Archbishop Makarios in the intercommunal talks that began in June 1968. With their resumption in 1975, one year after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, she served as an advisor to Makarios on the Cyprus issue and later as a special advisor to all Presidents of the Republic until Tassos Papadopoulos (2003-2008). Her significant contribution to the literature on the Cyprus issue is reflected in her two-volume work, "Fettered Independence: Cyprus 1878-1964," published in English by the University of Minnesota. She also maintained a rich historical archive, which she donated to the state.

In 1984, following a proposal by the President of the Republic, Spyros Kyprianou, she was appointed Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, a position she held until 1988. She also served as the President of the Cyprus Red Cross from 1961 to 2004 and as Vice President of the Anti-Cancer Association from 1971 to 1978. From 1987 to 1991, she served as a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO.

Stella Kakoyianni-Soulioti passed away on November 2, 2012, in Limassol, at the age of 92.