A Women's History Archive: Cyprus Library Online for Gender

Promitheas Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Cyprus and the Center for Gender Equality & History, have undertaken the implementation of the project “A Women's History Archive: Cyprus Library Online for Gender”.

The project is implemented under the program Restart "Social Innovation 2016-2020" of the Research Promotion Foundation and is co-funded by the Republic of Cyprus and the EU Regional Development Fund.

The project aims to reconstruct the history of Cypriot women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and present it in a way that will address a number of targets simultaneously: show the hidden contribution of women to our society; deconstruct historical myths and combat historical stereotypes in terms of women and gender; provide knowledge, role-models and empower contemporary Cypriot women to claim and improve their role in society by better understanding the roots of their inequality. This will address one of the major contemporary social challenges in European societies, Cyprus not excluded: gender inequalities and social stereotypes. These inequalities and stereotypes, which place women in a disadvantageous position, are produced and reproduced constantly via various mechanisms and institutions; history is an essential part in this process because it determines today's believes and attitudes. In other words, the way we tell and understand our past shapes our present.

Basic information for what women were doing in the past, what they contributed in society and how they struggled for their rights is missing from the general historiography, while bibliography specialized on gender or women’s history is rare; in Cyprus in particular is almost non-existent. This is apparent in multiple occasions: school textbooks, academic literature, the urban landscape and the absence of female statues or street names. History-telling remains male-centered. This creates a context in which society assigns more value to the contribution, activities and achievements of men, suggesting they are more worthy than those of women. Thus, ignorance and negligence, in terms of women’s history, have a negative impact on the ability of contemporary individuals and societies to overcome gender stereotypes and become agents of positive change. By confronting this ignorance, the project will contribute towards the direction of gender equality through an innovative path that will first acknowledge the gap in historiography in regards to women and the fact that history remains gender biased. Second, it will reconstruct this history in a way that brings specific, neglected aspects of this history in the forefront.