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Responsible politics

By Annie Charalambous

Disy MP Stella Kyriakidou said getting the highest number of party votes in May’s parliamentary contest means greater accountability.

“For myself, re-election means more responsibility, it means feeling that I need to maintain the efforts that I’ve been making to give a different pace to what we associate politics with,” Kyriakidou told the Cyprus Weekly in an interview.

“For me politics is not something detached from society; politics and society are very close together. It has nothing to do with granting favours, I don’t believe that is the role of the politician or the parliament,” she added.

The Nicosia-born trained child psychologist and mother of two adult boys also said that she is a firm believer of building a relationship based on trust and transparency as well as accountability. She is aware that people have had enough of hearing words and promises and that what they want now is specific action. “I don’t have another office, I don’t practise anything else, I work as a volunteer (as a child psychologist), I don’t believe I can do both equally well.”

“I have a parliamentary commitment, it’s a huge responsibility. People elected me to be here, they did not elect me to be somewhere else, they elected me to be accessible, they elected me to be honest and I try  – and so does my assistant – we want people to know they have every reason to be demanding of us, they have every reason to expect we are accountable,” she added.

But the MP clarified that she does not work by doing “favours”.

“When there is an issue to do with health, and where somebody’s rights are being violated we are going to look at it and if there is a need to take it on board we will take it on board and we will be their voice all the way.”

Kyriakidou is deputy chairwoman of the House Standing Committee on Health Affairs and a member of the House Standing Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women. She is also leader of the House delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

On Cypriot women’s equality status and political representation, Kyriakidou believes they are slowly establishing themselves, even though there is a lot that must be done.

“We have put forward issues that deal with women’s rights with children’s rights, these have been discussed frequently, but there is a lot we must do, this is my own bet to myself.

“I‘m now chairing the committee of human rights and equality, so my bet here is to change the agenda of this committee, put it really on the map within the parliament, to give a voice to women’s rights and issues.”
She pointed out that right-wing Disy has temporary quotas for women – believed to be a necessary way to go forward– and argued that attitudes are slowly changing in Cyprus.

As expected, she did encounter disappointment all the way in her political career.

“I chair the biggest committee of the Council of Europe, 40,000 members, and even there when you think it’s a very European institution you do see male–domination, you see evidence of almost bullying-like behaviour because it’s a woman chairing.

“But one deals with that by having a very professional attitude, by not feeling threatened, you will gain peoples’ trust and confidence and respect by your own behaviour, and by your knowledge and expertise.”

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