Meet Katerina Papanikolaou from Greece
Passionate, liberal, enthusiastic – this is how Katerina Papanikolaou describes herself. She is a senior consultant and she believes in the value of human rights and in female empowerment.
When asked about her own personal experience, she says “I do not think that there is a particular moment in a woman’s life when you actually feel pure discrimination, if you exclude instances of sexual harassment or hate speech”.
Katerina has been interested in politics since she was a child. Yet she notices women have not entirely conquered it as a professional field. “I am not sure it is a place for women. We see more women [in politics], and I would say the obstacles for them have decreased. The perception is that the obstacles are going completely away, that there are no barriers and that [women] can easily enter politics”, she explains. Yet the reality is a bit different. Katerina believes that support is required in order for women to enter political life successfully. “When I say support for women in politics, I mean practical support – so that even if you have children and have to work, you are able to participate. For example, if all the municipal council meetings are held at 10pm at night, then that is a barrier for women who want to be part of that council”, she explains.
As for Greek society as a whole, she believes that the general perception is that women belong at home. Katerina cites the fact that Greece ranks last in the European Union on the Gender Equality Index. The country’s rank is 52.2 points out of 100 – more than 15 points below the EU average and, according to the Index’s website, “Its ranking has remained the same since 2010”.
Fortunately, the younger generation seems to be more progressive and liberal when it comes to human rights and female empowerment. “I think people who are now 20 to 30 years old are more aware of the value of diversity”, the senior consultant explains.
Katerina points out that even though younger people might be more liberal or tolerant, they can still be victims of years of prejudice and have stereotypes engraved in their perceptions. “I am really careful when it comes to unconscious bias. We can find ourselves being biased without even understanding it. I think as a community we should work more on unconscious bias”, she says.