What we talk about when we talk about gender: An interview with ‘Thkio Logia/Θκυό Λόγια’

What happens when four recently graduated women join forces? Well… the success of the Thkio Logia digital campaign on gender equality issues speaks for itself! Read about their journey in the interview below.

What inspired this very-much-needed initiative? And what are the objectives of its digital campaign?

Our motivation to conduct this project was reinforced when throughout and after university, we realized that the Cypriot society lacks education/knowledge on gender inequality issues. In Cyprus, feminism appears to be too militant and people interpret it as a fighting-for-all female domination, which in itself defeats the ultimate purpose of feminism.

We are here to change gender normative narratives and challenge them. As a team, we want to tackle this issues starting with the core mechanisms of education and awareness. As a group of young people sensitized on the issue who have a great understanding of this situation and passion for a change, we decided to act.

Οur incentive for this project is the hope for a better future, with more equal opportunities, without stereotypes so that we can build a fairer and more inclusive society. We want to provoke people to think and try to understand the significance of this cause by providing them with reliable facts.

“Thkio Logia ” is the first awareness campaign via social media in Cyprus that aims to inform people about gender equality issues. We aim to provide reliable and accessible information for a better understanding of gender equality as a core value of societies such as that of Cyprus.

Thkio Logia, intends to promote and encourage a general understanding of gender-related challenges and showcase to today’s society how already established standards and norms influence our reality, reinforce stereotypes and support the structures that create institutional and societal inequalities.

Who is behind Thkio Logia?

Behind Thkio Logia there is a Team of 4 members, the co-founders. Angeliki Loizou, Elenitsa Onisiforou, Eftychia Nearchou and Panagiota Polykarpou are graduates from the Department of Business and Public Administraton of the University of Cyprus.

However, Thkio Logia is being supported by many other partners, such as psychologists, sociologists, graphic designers who enhance the campaign’s credibility.

As the name of the campaign suggests, the underlying philosophy of this initiative is ‘less is more’. What made you decide to just say ‘thkio logia’(a few words)?

When it comes to gender equality and equity issues, we usually deal with complex definitions and vocabulary. However, these are topics that affect our everyday life, our reality, and we should be able to understand these terms. Therefore, our approach, to say thkio logia in the form of a social media content aims to provide accessible and simple information for a better understanding of gender equality issues. The deal is to approach people who never got in touch with such discussions. This can be accomplished with simple terminology.

You usually post questions using the second-person pronoun ‘you’, which I find very powerful since you force the reader to personalise what she/he is reading. What is the idea behind this use of language?

Indeed our aim is to provide compelling content that forces our audience, the reader, to personalize what they are reading as our content is applicable in our everyday life and actions. We would like to help everyone understand that the topics around gender equality are not issues that concern only women. We are all affected by standards and norms that reinforce stereotypes and therefore affect our decisions and opportunities in society. Thus, we should not exclude anyone from being educated on this topic as it concerns all of us. By giving examples on how stereotypes, biased decisions, and unconscious bias affect our children’s careers choices, the culture at an organization, and embrace a violence culture, then we are a step closer to helping the reader to understand how they can change this.In short, Thkio Logia speaks up for people at a point in their life in which they felt oppressed.

 In one of your posts you have mentioned that although more women than men (especially in Western societies) have a university degree, the number of women being appointed in top positions in businesses and institutions is quite low and this does not reflect their qualifications. Why do you think this is happening?

Having less women in leadership positions while having data proving that women are more educated than men is indeed a paradox. Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since 1988.Yet, they have not moved up to positions of prominence and power in Europe and/or USA at anywhere near the rate that should have followed. There are some facts explaining this paradox. One of them is described as the “glass ceiling”. Glass ceiling is a metaphor for the evident but intangible hierarchical barrier that prevents minorities and women from achieving professional success.

Pregnant women and working mothers referred to as a motherhood penalty. Certain stereotypes related to women’s role in their family and needing to take time off after birth and for childcare often place women at a disadvantage in their careers compared to men and fathers.

Lastly, but most importantly, another example that explains this paradox is that stereotypes, and gender bias for the role of the “leader” and/or CEO, have been for years a barrier to women. Gender bias refers to the tendency people have to prefer one gender over another. In the workplace, this bias tends to negatively affect women significantly more than it does men. Those acts of discrimination come in different forms such as earning less than men who do the same job, being treated as incompetent, experiencing microaggressions regularly, receiving less support than men who do the same job, missing out on important career opportunities, feeling isolated, not receiving a promotion, and getting rejected for a job or promotion.

Note: There are many other reasons who explain the above paradox however, we chose to mention the most common/important reasons.

You also share book recommendations and movies or advertisements that will help people to think about gender. What do you think is the role of education and ‘being informed’ in promoting gender equality and equity in Cyprus and beyond?

The role of education and awareness were for us the leading factor to create this campaign. We believe that education around this topic and a better understanding of what it is and why it is important is the most crucial step which can bring us closer to a more equal world. By promoting books, videos, and movies that proves why it matters and why we are all responsible for this “fight”, we are confident that this will lead to better results. 

Do you think that gender equality in Cyprus (in both professional contexts and during the everyday life of women and men) has improved as compared to let’s say to ten years ago? And why?

 A progress has been made, definitely. Numbers and statistics may show how women have been more involved in the economy and how more women are represented in politics and top leadership positions. However, the number of cases of sexual harassment and domestic violence has been also increased dramatically throughout the years and specially during the pandemic in 2020. This is not only proof that we still have a lot of work to do but also it seems that the infrastructure, the government, needs to take gender equality issues far more seriously than it already does.

It’s important to clarify that having one, two, five, or ten women in politics, and another few in top leadership positions doesn’t make Cyprus a country that has achieved its equality goals. The standards of what equality and equity is for us are what’s so important.

Almost everyone is using social media nowadays and thus their power is unquestionable, since you can influence people from different social and cultural backgrounds with just a click. Have you noticed any positive impacts of the campaign that you would like to share since it was launched eight months ago?

There are numerous examples of people messaging us on how unique and necessary our work is but we would like to share just a few. One of the the most outstanding responses we got was on one of our posts that was referring to violence and bullying at school. One girl found herself so familiar with the story we shared and she sent us a message to express how grateful she feels that we share these stories and educate more people of the different forms of violence.

Another example was when another woman read for the first time what sexism in the workplace and what gender gap are, by reading our posts. When she learnt more about it, she found the strength to raise her voice and speak up about it since after all, she has been discriminated against and treated unfairly in her workplace.

We received numerous messages and feedback for our content and the way we talk about our topic. People find our posts friendly, and easy to understand. Recently, we have announced an open call for volunteers, and we received 37 application for volunteers who would like to work with us so we can scale our impact. For us, this is an outstanding result of our interaction with all these people, only through their devices. Achieving such interests from all these talented people just by creating awareness, is an outstanding achievement for us.

What challenges do you face and what are your future plans?

One of the challenges we faced was during the March 2020, when we launched the campaign – right at the time when the first lockdown took place in Cyprus. As you can imagine, it was harder for us to win the “fight” of COVID-19 in social media. However, we have managed to reach out to over than 200,000 in Cyprus, during 8 months.

One of our future plans is to expand our reach and continue to raise awareness by writing and disseminating a book, in Greek, English and Turkish. We plan to publish it in September 2021.

Meet the Team of Thkio Logia

Angeliki Loizou is a graduate of the Department of Business Administration and Public Administration of the University of Cyprus. During her studies she was inspired by remarkable people who transformed her into a more socially responsible person, who creates opportunities for change. Her experience of studying for a semester at a university in Barcelona through the Erasmus + program, gave her the opportunity to strengthen her understanding of the importance of coexistence. She is one of the founding members of the first digital awareness campaign on gender equality issues, Thkio Logia. At the same time, she works in a private sector company.

Panagiota Polykarpou is a graduate of the Department of Business Administration and Public Administration of the University of Cyprus. She works as the Program Coordinator at the non-profit organization, Cyprus Seeds. She has been awarded as one of the European leaders and represented Cyprus in the USA where she was trained in social entrepreneurship and leadership. In 2019, she was also one of the members of the Cypriot delegation to Israel for social entrepreneurship training. She is one of the founding members of the first Cypriot awareness campaign on gender equality issues, Thkio Logia.

Elenitsa Onisiforou is a graduate of the Department of Business Administration and Public Administration of the University of Cyprus. She has a Masters in Human Resource Management and she is one of the founding members of the first digital awareness campaign on gender equality issues, Thkio Logia.

Eftychia Nearchou is a graduate of Business Administration and Public Administration of the University of Cyprus and at this stage she is doing a master’s degree in Human Resource Management, also at the University of Cyprus. She also works in the human resources department of a multinational company. She has a vision of a society with more equal opportunities for all, that is why he opens his words to his team.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thkiologia
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thkiologia

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