The Gender Advisory Team (GAT) was formed in October 2009, as a core group of women who are interested in seeing gender equality integrated into the peace negotiations in Cyprus as well in all the peace building processes post-conflict. GAT consists of civil society activists and scholars from both sides of the divide, who have extensive knowledge and hands-on experience on gender issues in their respective communities and elsewhere.
GAT envisions a multicultural, democratic society based on gender equality. This equality should guide policies of access to resources, opportunities for personal and social development, and representation and participation in political processes. The respect for human rights and civic freedoms is a top priority in GAT's mandate.
In this vein, GAT strives to mainstream gender equality in the peace process, by ensuring women’s active participation in all phases of the process, and gender-proofing the content and basis of future peace agreements. GAT acknowledges the existing differences amongst the different Cypriot communities, and strives for the consideration of these differences in a future political agreement.
GAT is committed to ensuring gender equality and the respect of women’s human rights in the peace agreement and in post-agreement implementation.
Much of its work stems from the identification of the following factors as diachronic failures in the development of the peace negotiations.
1. Cypriot women have never sat at the negotiating table and their presence in positions of leadership (including those whose work feeds into the negotiation discussions) is very low.
2. The context of the negotiations lacks a gender perspective. Despite the fact that ‘equality’ (qualified or otherwise) has been the key principle guiding the negotiations, the interpretation of such ‘equality’ has tended to focus exclusively on only one form of difference (ethnic), rather than approaching it in tandem with other kinds of differences (of which gender is a key component).
3. There is very limited action on the part of women’s organisations to address negotiators as decision-makers obligated to ensure gender equality. Inter-communal lobbyists for women’s and gender issues more widely are conspicuous in their absence and communal lobbyists tend to focus their effort on each community separately.
4. Despite the attention to ‘human rights’ by negotiators, particular sets of human rights, including gender-based rights and social rights associated with them, have diachronically fallen outside the scope of concern.