Monthly Archives: December 2012

Can there be a ‘Women’s Peace’?

1

By Olga Demetriou, a member of GAT – Gender Advisory Team (prio.olga@cytanet.com.cy)

This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (21 December).

Last Thursday, the Buffer Zone was host to a conference entitled ‘Women’s Peace’. Conference organisers GAT (which stands for ‘Gender Advisory Team’) argued that women’s perspectives of peace and thus their expectations from a peace agreement should be integrated into the agendas of conspicuously male Cypriot politicians. GAT, which consists of Cypriot academics and activists working in various areas of gender rights has been making that argument since 2009, when it was formed.

Since then, it has taken the point to negotiators and others involved in the peace process, in the form of recommendations of what a gender-sensitive peace agreement should entail. Much of this may still to most people sound too technical or narrowly-focused on ‘women’ (why 50% of the population should be considered ‘narrow focus’ is still perplexing to me, but that is another discussion). So what does it actually mean? GAT’s perspective on power-sharing is a good example.

‘Power-sharing’ is intuitively understood as the diachronic domain of men; ‘power’ tends to signal what women should not be interested in – and most ‘good’ women often aren’t. ‘Sharing’ of course carries a more ‘homely’ ring to it, but in the given hyphenated structure (‘power-sharing’), it tends both to be effaced by the power of the first term, and to act as a prop that lends ‘power’ an added ‘technical’ implication. The question of ‘power-sharing’ thus tends to be understood as a technical matter pertaining to numbers in the allocation of seats in government and state institutions and in the calibration of each citizen’s vote. Together, governance and power-sharing have resonated more with (male) politicians, who propose and reject schemes of assigning weight to votes, ministries, and state institutions.

GAT’s recommendations on governance and power-sharing take a different approach. From the inception of modern statehood in Cyprus, women’s representation in government has been minimal; and the structure of negotiations thus far threatens to perpetuate this situation into the future state. GAT’s key concern is to re-position the interpretation of ‘power-sharing’ within more pluralistic framings of democratic rights. And while women’s rights are central to this attempt, the rights of sexual and immigrant minorities, and of children, youth, and the elderly are also embraced.

In a context where ‘the Cyprus problem’ is presented as ‘urgent’ and everything else ‘secondary’, and because, despite its persistence over three generations now, ‘the Cyprus problem’ is likely to be outlived by the problem of gender inequality, women, along with other social groups, have a stake in the phrasing of the Constitution, the government’s organogram, the design of the courts, the make-up of the police, and so on. The recommendations put forth by GAT are a mere reminder that ‘sharing’ must not be about ethnic ratios solely, but about gender ones as well. And that it needs to be framed in the aim not of a compromise against some ideal of autonomy, but of obligation, cohesion, cooperation, and inclusion.

The four sets of recommendations (on governance, citizenship, property, and economy) reflect this logic and call for no less than an overhaul to the thinking that has guided negotiations thus far. It is GAT’s vision that the mainstreaming of gender in the peace negotiations, and the implementation of an agreement, as well as in efforts outside the formal frame of negotiations, will contribute to a different understanding of the problems that have plagued the island over the decades. These have not only been problems of ethnicised politics and foreign interventions but also of a social and patriarchal order. ‘Cyprus’ from this perspective might slowly begin to look like a different place, a place other than conflict, war and trauma, a place where the future can be imagined productively and built solidly.

This is what a feminist (in a non-exclusive sense vis-à-vis men) ‘sharing’ of ‘power’ should be about.

GAT’s report and recommendations are available online.

Advertisements

Happy Holidays from CCMC!

CCMCHolidayCard2012D

We would like to take this opportunity…

…to thank you for your support during 2012! The Cyprus Community Media Centre has achieved so much this year and we couldn’t have done it without our members, friends, and the general public. We can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year everyone!

With best wishes from the CCMC team x

*To view upcoming events, visit our Community Calendar!

EC Active Ageing Photo and Film Competition Winners Announced

The winning photo "Ageless Joy" by Salih Bahceci

The winning photo “Ageless Joy” by Salih Bahceci

C3A, the Cyprus Third Age Association was one of the winners of the 2012 DigiMe digital photo and video competition, sponsored by the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus and taking as its theme the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. C3A received an honourable mention – and a 100 euro voucher for electronic gadgets – for a series of photographs showing the group’s educational activities which, as the judges said, illustrated vividly Active Ageing in Action.

The overall winner in the photo category was “Ageless Joy”, taken by Salih Bahçeci, a student of digital media at London Metropolitan University, while the short clip “An ordinary life of my grandparents” by Andreas Psaltis, a final year pupil at the Grammar School, Nicosia, won the video prize. The two category winners each received an iPad.

There were also honourable mentions for Elly Rousou for the photo entitled ‘Youth has no Age’, and for Yetin Arslan with ‘Fairy-tale Cycle’.

EllyRousou received an honourable mention for "Youth Has No Age"

EllyRousou received an honourable mention for “Youth Has No Age”

Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony held at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia’s Buffer Zone, the Head of Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus George Markopouliotis said:

“This is the second year of the DigiMe digital video and photo competition. We at the Representation are happy to support this online event and we do hope that it will carry on with the same success for a few more years to come. Our intention was to to raise awareness of the contribution that older people make to society and I think that the entries to the competition do this quite admirably. It is also clear that these issues, like the environment and climate change in last year’s competition, are obviously of concern to all communities in Cyprus – two-thirds of this year’s entries come from Greek Cypriots and approximately one-third from the Turkish Cypriot community.”

Entries in the DigiMe competition are not judged on artistic merit alone but also on relevance and, crucially, on the impact they have online. This impact, the buzz, which this year’s entries have generated, has been considerable. There were more than 100 entries in all which attracted nearly 3,000 votes on the DigiMe website, more than 2,000 YouTube views and nearly 4,000 likes and comments on Facebook.

The DigiMe competition is managed on behalf of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus by the NGO Support Centre and the Cyprus Community Media Centre.

You can see all the entries at the DigiMe website: http://www.digime.org.cy

Cyprus Friendship Programme 2013 Application open!

Cyprus Friendship Programme_w550

The Cyprus Friendship Programme (CFP) has announced its application process for 2013!

CFP aims to create bonds of friendship and trust among the youth of the communities of Cyprus. Each teen from one community is ‘paired’ with another of the same gender from the other community. Each pair is then hosted in July for four weeks by a family in the United States.

To find out more click here to download information.

The Cyprus Friendship Programme (CFP) is modeled on the all-volunteer Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland (CFPNI), a peace and friendship building programme that successfully brought more than 2,000 Protestant and Catholic teens (as well as their families and their friends) in Northern Ireland together throughout its 21 year existence. CFPNI came to its successful completion in 2007.

The bi-communal Cyprus Friendship Programme started in 2009 as an initiative of HasNa, a small US non-profit organisation in cooperation with a Cypriot team of coordinators. Currently, the US leg of the programme is managed by the Cyprus Friendship Programme Incorporated (CFP Inc.), a new non-governmental, non-profit organization based in the US. The Cyprus leg of the programme is managed by a bi-communal team of Cypriot coordinators. The two groups cooperate harmoniously and driven by the same passion to promote a culture of peaceful coexistence.

CFP aims to create bonds of friendship and trust among the youth of the communities of Cyprus. Each teen from one community is ‘paired’ with another of the same gender from the other community. Each pair is then hosted in July for four weeks by a family in the US.

All the coordinators of the programme in Cyprus and the US as well as the board members of CFP Inc. offer their services on a purely voluntary basis. No one gets paid. This also applies for the host families in the US who cover all the expenses of hosting the two teenagers.

Check out their activities on Youtube, or read about them on the Huffington Post!

Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage announces the implementation of emergency measures on cultural heritage sites

image009Text from a press release issued by the United Nations Partnership for the Future (UNDP-PFF) project (12 December 2012):

The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage has announced the start-up of emergency works at the Mosque of Deneia/Denya, as well as emergency measures to prevent further damage to the building which is in a precarious condition. This will include a general cleaning of the mosque and the courtyard, removal of loose parts, consolidation of the internal arch and improvement of the courtyard fence. The works are expected to be completed by early March 2013.

Steps are also being taken for similar measures on Prophitis Elias Church at Philia (Serhatköy) and other monuments included in the project’s First Cycle Programme list.

Additional cultural heritage sites will benefit from similar interventions in the months to come. All the activities are funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP-Partnership for the Future in collaboration with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.

The startup of these activities marks an important moment in the Committee’s efforts to protect and preserve the island’s rich cultural heritage.

ENGAGE on the Move promotes peace-building at Kontea Village

kontea-visitors at the ruins of the catholic church - by David Hands

Text from a press release issued by the ENGAGE – Do Your Part for Peace project, implemented jointly by the NGO Support Centre and the Management Centre (12 December 2012):

On Saturday the 8th of December 2012, the ENGAGE team of volunteers and practitioners joined locals and guests at Kontea village in the northern part of Cyprus. The excursion was part of the ENGAGE on the Move campaign, whose aim is to involve the public residing in remote and rural areas in the peace-building process.  ENGAGE on the Move took place in the context of a festive ceremony organised to commemorate the opening of the Auxiliary Buildings Courtyard which was part of the second phase of a unique project that includes elements of the rescue and preservation of an important historical site on the outskirts of the village.

The ENGAGE team attended the bi-communal event to inform the public about various peace and reconciliation issues between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Cyprus’ Civil Society character and the importance of Active Citizenship and volunteerism. The team also encouraged and inspired those present to voice their opinions on these matters.

The Opening Ceremony was inaugurated by US Ambassador to Cyprus H.E. Mr. John M. Koenig who stated that the Kontea locals and restoration team had gone above and beyond USAID’s expectations and emphasised his hope that the work being done at the village would prove to be a valuable reconciliation example that could be used in the near future.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Charalambos Pericleous, president of the Kontea Heritage Foundation stated that when the project first started, the courtyard as well as the relationship between the two communities was ‘in ruins’, but once the restoration process began ‘step by step, stone by stone, trust was rebuilt’.

Mr Selcan Akyel, representative of the Union of the Chambers of Cyprus Turkish Engineers and Architects, who was directly involved in the restoration process, also welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of bi-communal cooperation to preserve historical heritage landmarks stating that ‘by working together for projects like these, we can show the general public that we can work together for peace’.

For some, the festival offered a unique opportunity to visit the beautiful village for the first time and for others it was a chance to reminisce and share childhood memories. The event proved to be a great success with over 500 active participants who enjoyed authentic Cypriot cuisine and folk music as well as traditional dances by the bi-communal dance ensemble ‘Dance for Peace’.  Younger visitors had the opportunity to work with local artist Sevcan Cerkez to create clay handprints that will be used in the creation of a sculpture to be unveiled at the ENGAGE closing ceremony in July 2013.

Young Cypriots celebrate EU Nobel Peace Prize

NobelPeaceCyprus

Text from a press release issued by the European Commission Representation in Cyprus (10 December 2012):

Nearly 200 school children from Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and international schools as well as members of bi-communal youth organizations came today at the EU House in Nicosia to celebrate the award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU and watch live the Awards Ceremony from Oslo.

In an informal setting, the pupils had the opportunity to air their views on the European Union and its contribution to peace as well as on issues of more direct interest to Cyprus. The discussion was moderated by TV presenters Kyriakos Pierides (CyBC) and Aysu Basri Akter (Sim TV) and the young audience engaged in a mature dialogue with the invited guests. Former President George Vassiliou, Lellos Demetriades and Mustafa Akinci, prominent Cypriots who have made a contribution to bi-communal understanding, were amongst those who engaged in the conversation with the pupils.  Committee of Missing Persons members Gülden Plümer Küçük and Aristos Aristotelous as well as representatives of the bi-communal civil society organisation for the missing ”Together we can” Christina Solomi and Sevgül Uludağ also took part in the event. MEP Ioannis Kasoulides delivered a video message from Strasbourg.

The Bi-communal Choir for Peace in Cyprus performed at the event which was hosted by the Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament Office in Cyprus.

”We are very happy to be co-hosting this vibrant and lively event today. We are certain that the next generations of Europeans, the next generations of Cypriots, whom we have here with us today, will be inspired from what the EU has achieved over the last sixty years and will lead the way to promote peace and prosperity in the coming sixty years,” said Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus.

On 12 October 2012, The Nobel Committee announced the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, recognising that the union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament received today at Oslo, Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union.

It is noted that The European Union has decided to grant the Nobel Peace Prize monetary award (930 000 euro, 8 million Swedish krona) to projects that support children in war and conflict zones. More specifically, the European Union has decided to double the funds awarded and give 2 000 000 euro in total to the cause. The projects that will receive the funding will be selected in line with normal procedures for funding EU humanitarian actions.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: