There is momentum for equal and meaningful participation of women in the settlement process in Cyprus, that can and should be built on, said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacemaking Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, who opened a UN photo exhibition outside Ledra Palace Hotel, in the Nicosia buffer zone.

DiCarlo, joined the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Deputy Special Adviser on Cyprus, Colin Stewart, to mark the International Women’s Day 2023 by opening the exhibition titled “Inclusive Diplomacy: Women’s Participation in the Cyprus Talks.”

During the exhibition, the Under-Secretary-General also had the opportunity to meet with First Lady, Philippa Karsera – Christodoulides, and others who attended the event.

After the exhibition, DiCarlo and Stewart also attended a round-table discussion with women that have taken active part in the Cyprus talks, to hear about their roles in building peace, exchanging experiences and ideas for the way forward.

In her address, DiCarlo said that, while the leaders and their negotiators have thus far all been men, “women have taken on pivotal roles as part of the track-one process, with both sides increasingly including senior women as part of their delegations, as trusted political and legal advisers, as appointed co-chairs, members of working groups and technical committees.”

Women’s contribution “is unknown to most, but one that is substantial and which has the potential to inspire other women and future generations of both sides of the island” she added.

The UN top official also spoke of “a momentum that can and should be built on” and referred to last year’s agreement, reached by former Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, to an “Action Plan to ensure women’s full equal and meaningful participation in the settlement process/an eventual settlement process in Cyprus”, saying that this is “a critical step forward in this regard”.

The plan was developed by the Technical Committee on Gender Equality and launched on 13 April 2022.

Speaking of the joint responsibility of the Plan’s implementation, DiCarlo noted that “we will work with the two leaders to ensure that any future process, in line with their own commitment, has women and men working together towards finding a sustainable, lasting solution to the Cyprus issue.” “We will do our utmost in our effort to amplify knowledge and understanding of women’s critical contribution to any peacemaking efforts in Cyprus” she concluded.

At the discussion following the exhibition, First Lady Philippa Karsera – Christodoulides spoke of her own experience as a member of a Technical Committee back in 2015. As she explained, the Committee had conducted a report on the necessary preparation in areas ahead of implementing the EU acquis, following the reunification of Cyprus. “When we resume the negotiations”, she said, “which will hopefully be soon, this team should start again and update its work”. She said finally that this experience was one of the most important, if not the most important, she had in her career.

According to a press statement by the UN Spokesperson in Cyprus, the exhibition highlights the important role played by women in the Cyprus settlement negotiations over the years. “Visitors will be given a behind-the-scenes look into how women have increasingly contributed to track-one negotiations in key roles, as political and legal advisors, as trusted colleagues and partners” it is added.

“Some of these formidable women have lent their pictures, stories and experiences to the exhibition with a sincere intent to inform and to inspire others, in particular future generations of women” the statement says.

The exhibition, “Inclusive Diplomacy: Women’s Participation in the Cyprus Talks” will be open to visitors between 15 March and 15 April 2023. It will also be available online on a permanent basis at

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively. Ledra Palace hotel is located in Nicosia, at one of several crossing points that operate since 2003 along the ceasefire line to facilitate the movement of people to and from the island’s northern Turkish-occupied areas.

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