Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Friday dismissed criticism that Lithuania might become the only country in Europe where women are absent from the cabinet of ministers.
Saulius Skvernelis
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

It should not be detrimental to Lithuania's image, he said, quoted by the news agency Elta.

"The gender should not be the main argument, even if it is important. Women are very important, however professionalism, personal characteristics matter a lot as well. These are the main arguments," he said.

After last month's Skvernelis decision to replace three ministers, including two former female ministers -- ministers of education and culture, currently 13 out of 14 Lithuanian ministers are men.

He has not yet named the candidate to overtake Ministry of Environment, the last ministry currently working without the minister. According to Skvernelis, a few candidacies are being considered at the moment.

"We have quite a few women in the government, as there are not only ministers, but also vice ministers, chancellors, heads of administrations. We love, support and cherish women in order to ensure equal rights," Skvernelis said.

Back in December, Skvernelis decided to replace three ministers in order to ensure "bigger reform breakthrough".

Skvernelis was criticized this week by local media which pointed to other European countries such as France, where President Emmanuel Macron has proclaimed the gender equality the priority of his term as president. About half the ministers in Macron's government are women, said Vaidotas Beniušis, chief editor of Lithuanian news agency BNS, in his commentary published by local media on Thursday.

According to Beniušis, the "intrigue" becomes even bigger due to the fact that Lithuania hosts the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) funded by the EU. Meanwhile, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė is a chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.

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