Posts from the ‘Women’s issues’ Category

All the President’s women – part two

TsarouhaThe Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace of previous governments has become part of the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform, a “demotion” according to right wing politicians, has been given to Ms. Maria Kolia – Tsarouha. Ms. Tsarouha was first elected in her home town, Serres, in 2000, with New Democracy. In 2012, after refusing to sign the second mnemonium, she was ousted from New Democracy and joined the Independent Greeks Party. It is considered common knowledge that Ms Kollia-Tsarouha belongs to the close circle of ex-Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, former President of New Democracy.

KountouraMs Eleni Kountoura is Deputy Minister for tourism. She has followed more or less the same route as Ms Kollia: from New Democracy to the Independent Greeks and now to the ministry. She is a graduate of the Gymnastics Academy of Athens and a champion athlete. True to their reputation Greek mass media concentrate on her international career as a top model….We are looking forward to her efforts to boost Greek tourism.

Rania Antonopoulou, deputy Minister for the reduction of unemployment comes from the academic sector. She gave up her teaching post in Bard College to offer her services to the most difficult task of this government: unemployment. Due to her long stay abroad she is not very well known in Greece.


The percentage of women in the present Parliament is 23,5%, higher than in previous Parliaments but still not as high as the goal of 33% set by the Greek women’s movement.

All the President’s women…

(An old post that was never ….posted. Personal issues kept me away but today, seeing the attack on two of the President’s women I have decided to post it without corrections but with some additions. Hope you all had a good Easter holiday )

First of February: Athens is covered in an off white sandy veil. The miniature sand storm comes from Africa and it visits Greece regularly three or four times a year.

It is customary to wish each other “Kalo mina” – Happy new month – at the beginning of every month. This month the wish has a special meaning.

The new Greek government is a fact. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has won the elections and managed to form a government allying itself with right wing Independent Greeks party.

The composition of the government has been analysed according to the media’s assessment of each Minister’s news worthiness. Mr. Yannis Varoufakis, for example, has appeared on the BBC, Alexis Tsipras on every other tv station and/or newspaper. I want to speak about the members of the new government who have not reached tv star status.

zoi-konstantopoulouFirst of all in a 41 person government I counted 6 women plus the new Parliament Chairwoman, Ms. Zoe Konstantopoulou. Ms. Kostantopoulou is the daughter of a very prominent attorney (he was one of the judges in the Greek junta trial) and popular political figure, Nicos Konstantopoulos who headed Synaspismos, the major component of SYRIZA, from 1993 to 2004. Ms Zoe Konstantopoulou a well known lawyer in her own right has become famous for her spirited spats with opposition MPs during her first four years in Parliament. Everyone looks forward to her handling of her new post.

valavaniMs. Nantia Valavani, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Finances, is a graduate of the Economics University of Athens and holds a doctorate from the Communication and Mass Media dpt of the same University. Ms.Valavani combines the abilities of a competent economist with the sensitivity of a literary critic: she is one of the most prominent Bertolt Brecht scholars. Born in 1954 she took part in the anti-dictatorship resistance originally in her native Crete and later, as a student in Athens where she was arrested and imprisoned for months.

Tasia Christodoulopoulou, Deputy Minister for immigration, is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.xristodoulopoulou

Midsummer night concert

Haris Alexiou sings in solidarity to the cleaners’ struggle

Yesterday night Syntagma Square was once more flooded with protesters but with a difference: last night was a singing protest! Haris Alexiou, one of the most popular and respected singers in Greece gave an open air concert in support of the cleaners’ struggle*. Wearing cleaning gloves she waved her hands in return to the audience clapping and singing along.  The Concert was organised and supported by the radio station “Sto kokkino” – it means “on red” , a left-wing radio. Haris sang old and new ballads and managed to refresh our souls despite the heat!

Haris Alexiou's solidarity concert

Haris Alexiou’s solidarity concert

*The cleaners’struggle has received great publicity and attracted much sympathy worldwide because in their case the injustice is blatant. They were found “redundant” and fired. They took the government to court and were justified but the government has appealed the court decision and they are still out of a job.  They belonged to the Economics Ministry employees – all 600 of them. The Ministry has had to replace them with private cleaning agencies which cost them as much as the full time cleaners.

The cleaning ladies  have been camping outside the Finances Ministry for the last two months. They have become a focal point for many other public sector employees who have been summarily fired in order to satisfy the Troika demand for a smaller public sector.

Tax evaders get gifts we get fired - The cleaners'banner

Tax evaders get gifts we get fired – The cleaners’banner


Random Greek news items from last week

Wednesday morning the Greek Parliament lifted the parliamentary immunity of 6 Golden Dawn Parliament Members. 246 yes votes out of 300 allow Greek courts to sue the GD Members of Parliament for various pending cases: the so –called party has been accused with being a criminal organization and the Public order Minister has openly called them a neo-nazi formation.

In spite of all the revelations about their criminal activities Golden Dawn remains the third party in opinion polls. One more proof of the Greek citizens mistrust and disgust with the existing political personnel.

Thursday night news broadcasts were flooded with reports about an incident between the workers’ union of the Corfu hospital and a group of Health ministry inspectors. The inspectors claimed that they were obstructed in carrying out their mission, that they were isolated in a room and threatened. Health minister, Adonis Georgiadis, was uncharasterically cool about the episode. It is to the government’s interests to keep health care discussions as there are rumors of hefty cuts in health funds. These rumors are fuelled by the lack of the most elemental facilities.

kouneva-1The good news is that a Piraeus Court has ruled for Konstantina Kouneva in her case against Ecomet, her employer company.

Ms Kouneva, a cleaning lady,  had been attacked and seriously injured on the 28th of December 2008 by people unknown as a result of her unionist activities. A Bulgarian immigrant , Ms. Kouneva actively struggled against the exploitation of women immigrant workers and had often been threatened for it. She has been awarded 250.000 Euros damage payment with the amount of 80.000 to be paid immediately. 


Alinda Demetriou, the grand lady of the Greek documentary scene bows out


Ten years ago, more or less, I had the opportunity to watch the first of the trilogy directed by Alinda Demetriou and dedicated to the women of the Greek World War 2 Resistance movement.

Till then I had always wondered what had happened to these women. We all knew they existed, from photographs and biographies signed by their male co-warriors, but the women remained nameless, practically non-existent. And then came Alinda. A documentary director who had worked for the state TV for many years Alinda decided to give up her job, take one camera, organize a group of volunteers and tape the stories of the women resistance veterans. Wonderful stories, full of humor, passion, sensitivity, humble bravery, patience and a thirst of life. Somehow, all these women seemed so very young! Alinda’s no frills approach helped depict their personalities, their motives then and today, their attitude to life, their humanity.

Ms Demetriou went on to direct “Life on the rocks” for the women in the Democratic army during the civil war and their lives in exile. Her criteria for choosing the particular women, in the creator’s words from an interview to Avgi newspaper : “What makes them special is their ethos, their dignity, their endurance and stubbornness”. “The rain girls” was to be her swan song. Alinda Demetriou died right in the middle of the Greek summer. She was 80 years young…

Something old, nothing new, all borrowed, all blue… The song of the new Greek government

After a week of rumours about reshuffling, after ousting its only progressive alibi (the Democratic Left of Mr. Fotis Kouvelis), after the failure of privatisation (selling off for the opposition) of various state companies, after the notorious mishandling of the ERT reorganisation Mr. Samaras announced the composition of his new government.

The “new” government, which was sworn in at noon, is the epitome of irony. It is made up of the two parties that led Greece in the post – dictatorship era and have singlehandedly managed to turn it into the bankrupt state it is today. New Democracy and PASOK promise to show Greece the way out of the chaos they have created!!

A quick look at the political personalities involved is enough to cause instant depression to any logical person: Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, PASOK chairman, appointed deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, has served in ministerial positions in the majority of the PASOK governments. His name is involved with the Lagarde list scandal since he was the Minister of Finance to succeed chief suspect Mr. Papaconstantinou. Mr. Mihalis Chrisohoides, who has also served as Minister of National Security, heads a new ministry and together with another 8 high profile PASOK leading personalities provides the “green” of the government.

The very “blue” background is provided by all the rest with Mr. Dendias, of the “xenios zeus” project, carrying on as Minister of Citizen Protection(!), the much criticised Mr. Stournaras unmovable in the Economy Ministry while Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, a recruit from Mr. Karatzaferis’Orthodox Rally, appointed Minister of Health to the delight of cartoonists and satirists…

Ms. Fofi Gennimatas is the daughter of a prominent and popular PASOK leading figure – she is now deputy Minister. Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, son of former Prime Minister Kostas Mitsotakis, is the new Minister of Social Reform. Mr. Pantelis Kapsis, new Minister for the state radio -television company, is a prominent journalist and the son of a PASOK former minister. Mr. Kapsis has held a high position in the Lambrakis publishing group and was the spokesperson of the Papadimos government. Mr. Varvitsiotis, new Minister of Marine, is the son of a former New Democracy Minister. Family tradition is strong in Greece.

At the same time Greek society was shocked to hear of the bankruptsy of one more company considered “healthy” . The Katselis bakeries filed for bankruptsy leaving another 480 people unemployed!!

The new government has very little time to perform the required reforms and it is my view that it has neither the ability nor the will. We shall see.

New Greek government – something old, something new, mostly blue

A new government, largely composed of New Democracy politicians with a sprinkle – literally- of PASOK and Democratic Left influence, was announced on Thursday and the swearing in ceremony will take place today.
The reactions are still lukewarm since everybody is waiting for the government’s programmatic commitments.
Here are the names with as much information as I thought would help us to understand the identity of this government. Firstly, let us notice the number of Ministers, Deputy Ministers etc: the ministerial council is made up of 39 people with only two women among them. The size of this government has already been criticized as too large,too masculine and too much to the right.
Mr.Antonis Manitakis, well known and respected professor, very close to the Democratic Left, is the new Minister of Administrative Reform and electronic governance. Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights is Mr Roupakiotis, also of the Democratic Left, well known lawyer who has served as chairman of the Athens ‘Lawyers Association.
Mr. Vassilis Repanos, one of the PASOK favourites, is the new Finance Minister.
Mr. Athanassios Tsaftaris is the second PASOK influence and heads the Agricultural Development and Foodstuffs Ministry.
All others are connected to New Democracy or belong to its sphere of influence.
Mr.Dimitris Avramopoulos – Foreign Affairs Minister
Mr.Euripides Stylianoudis – Interior Affairs Minister
Mr.Panos Panayotopoulos – Defense Minister
Mr. Kostis Hatzidakis, ministry of Development, Transport and Networks.
Mr.Kostas Mousouroulis, Maritime and Aegean Minister
Mr. Evangelos Livieratos, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change
Mr. Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos Education Minister
Mr. Yiannis Vroutsis, Labour and Social Security Minister
Mr. Andreas Lykourentzos, Health and Social Solidarity Minister
Mr. Nikos Dendias, Public Order Minister
Ms Olga Kefaloyianni, Tourism MinisterΥπουργείο Τουρισμού
Mr. Theodoros Karaoglou, Minister of Thrace and Macedonia.
Finally, Mr. Simos Kedikoglou has been appointed Government spokesman.