Six higher education institutions in Cyprus have signed up to a new pilot project based on the Athena Swan Charter. The framework is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research.

Frederick University, University of Central Lancashire Cyprus, University of Nicosia, Cyprus University of Technology, University of Cyprus and European University Cyprus will take part in the three-year pilot to co-develop a gender equality charter designed specifically for the higher education context on the third most populous island in the Mediterranean.

Funding for the project is being provided by the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (CYQAA).

Professor Mary Koutselini, President of CYQAA, said, “We are pleased to see this collaboration of the universities to promote gender equality in higher education programmes, research, activities, regulations, governance and administration, through the Athena Swan Charter, and to expand their existing procedures for equality and equity. It is important to emphasise that the initiative has a down-up origin as it involves universities’ decision makers and leaders in the field.

“CYQAA is proud to facilitate their involvement in the project and to work together for the fulfilment of participants’ equality aims and objectives, which are not externally imposed but will represent their real and differentiated needs.”

Athena Swan was established by Advance HE in the UK in 2005 and was assessed as the only gender equality award scheme that is both successful and transferable by GENDER-NET, a largescale research project funded by the European Commission.

The framework has since been adapted for use outside of Europe, with charter frameworks established in Australia (SAGE), the USA (SEA Change) and Canada (DIMENSIONS).

The international charters aim to establish frameworks that are globally comparable and locally contextualised, working with governments, national and sector agencies, or professional bodies to establish tailored and impactful charter frameworks.

Alison Johns, Chief Executive, Advance HE, said, “We help higher education organisations across the world to be the best they can be, by unlocking the potential of their people.

“The UK Athena Swan Charter  has played a pivotal role in promoting gender equality in higher education and research globally through partnerships in a growing number of countries. We are delighted to welcome these institutions in Cyprus to Advance HE membership and look forward to working with colleagues to progress gender quality in higher education and research on the island.”

The Athena Swan Cyprus Advisory Group met for the first time on 15 September to begin developing the Cyprus framework.