«Women take the initiative»
Successful BPW Cyprus event sends out strong messages
On 13 June 2017, BPW Cyprus held a special event under the banner of «When women take the initiative» («Όταν οι γυναίκες βγαίνουν μπροστά»). The event, which took place at the Bank of Cyprus HQ in Nicosia, focused on gender equality in terms of career development and the race to the top, with messages that rang true to the audience and left a mark.
For real-life illustrations of these important messages, BPW Cyprus invited four dynamic role models to share their personal life / career stories: the popular, award-winning journalist from Greece, Maria Houkli, the Director of the Central Prisons, Anna Aristotelous, the architect Elena K Tsolaki, and the Director of the Troodos Development Company Ltd, Klelia Vasiliou.
The President of BPW Cyprus, Mary Papadopoulou, opened the event with a brief welcome message in which she thanked the audience for their overwhelming response to BPW’s invitation to attend, as well as all who consistently support the efforts and important mission of BPW Cyprus. Ms Papadopoulou said: «Women inspire others and are the agents of change because they are not afraid to take the initiative.» Ms Papadopoulou expressed her admiration of all women who work passionately and dynamically to achieve their goals, both in their personal and their professional life. She also noted that, sadly, we have only few women role models – not necessarily because they don’t exist, but possibly because they lack exposure. This event, among other BPW activities, was designed to do just that: to shine the spotlight on the inspiring women that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Gender Equality Commissioner, Josephina Antoniou, also addressed the audience and encouraged the active participation of women in the economy and in politics. She emphasized the fact that women who dare to take the lead do so not just for themselves, but also pave the way for others to follow, thereby challenging stereotypes and preconceptions that often create serious obstacles.
The established journalist, Maria Houkli, briefly described her development from her days as a law student till the present. She urged women to aim high: «Make no mistake: failure is not reserved for women; and don’t hesitate to talk about your achievements,» she said emphatically.
Referring to her chalenging role, the Director of the Central Prisons, Anna Aristotelous, shared her own story and experiences, underlining that it takes determination, patience, focus, people skills and knowledge to ‘break’ the system – but it can be done, not only to survive but even to excel in a male-dominated environment.
The successful young architect, Elena K Tsolaki, shared her path to success, focusing on the importance of setting high goals – not just for women – and the need to work hard, and work smart. She also referred to the value of family support, and its positive impact.
Finally, the Director of the Troodos Development Company Ltd, Klelia Vasiliou, highlighted the obstacles she faced as a women professional that was born, raised and lives in a rural environment, and how she managed to overcome them to achieve her own goals and earn respect and recognition.
The event was attended by members and friends of BPW Cyprus, as well as officials and dignitaries including party presidents, party representatives and embassy representatives from different countries.
The event was sponsored by the National Machinery for Women’s Rights.