An UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Empowerment has recently been established at the University of Cyprus. The network of partners includes institutions, academicians, GOs and NGO's in Europe, the Balkans and Middle East. The Chair's partnership is carefully designed to contribute to North - South and South - South collaboration, regardless of geographical locations, for the promotion of a creative dialogue and mainstream anticipation of problems and negative attitudes in the socio-economic, educational, and political sphere. From this point of view, the partnership seeks to diagnose the real needs of each region and to act as a creative think tank that supports the development of local poles for the elimination of the theory praxis divide in gender equality and empowerment.

The University of Cyprus and its partners on Gender Equality and Empowerment aim at functioning not only as a centre of excellence for local development on gender empowerment and collaboration, but also as a dynamic pole of synergy among chairs, networks, and working groups that combine their efforts for the achievement of the two mutually reinforcing objectives of UNESCO regarding its overarching global priority of gender equality as described in its Approved Programme and Budget 2008-2009 and the Medium-Term Strategy 2008-2013: to fully implement the gender mainstreaming strategy into all programme components - education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture and communication and information; to ensure that the specific needs of women and girls are considered a priority in its programmes, especially at the country level. These objectives form a necessary condition for the achievement of the internationally agreed development objectives, including all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

To achieve its objectives, the Chair undertakes an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation activities in the field of women and gender studies. Its activities include:

    • Research on gender equality and quality in equality aiming at knowledge building, sensitizing, and developing of 'good practices', guidelines and standards
    • Initiatives for the establishment of Child-caring Centres in the places of mother's work
    • Empowerment of the one-parent (mother) families, and initiatives for increasing mothers' income
    • Enhancement of women motivation for long-life learning and technological training
    • Development of modules for courses in the area of gender equality and women's empowerment at postgraduate or/and undergraduate university level
    • Visiting professorships – Exchange of lectures, expertise and practices
    • Institutional development (including strengthening of information/library services)
    • Short-term training and seminars promoting the aim and objectives of the Chair
    • Lectures open to public, and Scientific conferences on topics relevant to the field covered by the Chair with key-note speakers from different fields, countries and university departments
    • Press Conferences
    • Workshops and national, regional and international meetings
    • Cultural events
    • Development of model programmes and educational/training materials
    • Reports on 'good practices'
    • Web-page entitled 'UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Empowerment'

This Chair is of major importance for regional development. Geographically and historically, lying at the crossroads of three continents, where East meets West, Cyprus forms a bridge between different cultures and religions. The UNESCO Chair, on a priority programme area for UNESCO such as Gender Equality and Empowerment, at the University of Cyprus, aims through its cultural diverse and capable partnership to provide a new paradigm on how common problems faced by the populations of the region can be addressed through the gender perspective.