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  Nr. 125 - May 2009
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Women in the Greek Islands

By Iris Papathanasiou, May 2009
In the past century, women – at least in developed countries – have achieved much success in being recognized as equal participants in society. In this process, however, they have not only gained advantages, but new roles and responsibilities have been added to their lives.

Each region of the world has different characteristics, respon-sibilities and challenges which women have to manage. The common ground and history connecting women living in the islands of Greece was high-lighted at the conference organized by the Women’s Association of Naoussa: “Women in the Greek Islands (part II)” at the beginning of April (the first conference was held in 2006).

An impressive panel of speakers covered issues that concern the lives of women from every point of view, provoking interesting discussions and generating ideas about the many ways in which cooperation between the participating groups at the conference could benefit the different island communities. Topics focused mainly on psychological themes and family issues, but the conference also covered politics and the business opportunities and funding that are currently offered specifically to women by the E.U.

Twelve women’s organizations from the islands of Serifos, Syros, Milos, Andros, Sifnos, Crete, Mykonos, Amorgos and Paros – including the International Women’s Organization of Paros (IWOP) – participated in this event which took place in the Moraitis Winery in Naoussa, Paros. The history of some of these organizations goes back a long way, illustrating how women have historically formed strong groups which have been instrumental in engineering change within their communities during hard times and in conditions of poverty. In the past, the majority of women were married to sailors and miners who were absent for long periods, and they therefore carried the responsibility of raising a family almost completely on their own.

Today, though the standard of living has improved, the issues faced by women and by the communities in which they live have become more complex. And this is what the conference was all about: creating an understanding of the background, the past, that characterizes the islanders and especially the women who have always had a powerful influence within the community.

It was noted how in the islands communities are held together by strong bonds and traditions which have not died out – “tools” that can be useful today to face the difficulties and complexities of the modern world, which leaves no community unaffected. As psychologist Chrysavgi Kanellopoulou stated: “The first time I felt that I belonged to this island, and I knew what it really meant to be an islander, was when I started to plan a future with others. This is why associations are so important”.

Through this event, the Women’s Association of Naoussa has created a forum for dialogue which has opened new channels of communication between the islands and a vision for greater things that could be realized if efforts are united.

Visitors to Paros were greeted by Zambia Koveou – Secretary of the Association and responsible overall for coordinating the event – at a reception held on the evening of their arrival at the Moraitis Winery. During their stay the visitors were taken on a guided tour of Paros, including the Ekatontapyliani and the Anthemion Folklore Museum.
The Women’s Association of Naoussa thanks their co-organizers: the Dimos Paros, Paros Eparcheio and the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, and their sponsors: Moraitis Winery, Spyros Anargyros (Yamaha), KTEL Paros, Typografeio, Dianthos Flower Shop, Aliprantis Shipyards and Antonis Kalogirou (Anthi & Techni).

They also thank the organizational committee - Anna Kangani, Anna Polykandrioti and Stephania Kortianou-Hatzopoulou, the event coordinator Iraklis Hatzopoulos and the speakers Alexandra Kappatou - Psychologist, Tenia Makri - Family Consultant, Aliki Skliri - representative of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, Katerina Yiannetou - sociologist, Chrysavgi Kanellopoulou - psychologist, Stella Pantelidou - clinical psychologist, Archontoula Frangou - physician, as well as DEPAP - the Municipal Cultural Organization, Father Spyridon Fokianos, Mr & Mrs Kontogeorgos of the Anthemion Museum, Manolis Somaripas and the members of the Women’s Association who provided the buffet for the reception.

An informal review of the conference will be held (in English) for members of IWOP in May (see next column).

For further information on the Women’s Association of Naoussa, contact Stephania Kortianou-Hatzopoulou on 22840-51030, hiracl57@otenet.gr or Zampia Kovaiou on 22840-52424, tzanne@otenet.gr.
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