Politics & Economics

What is the role of women in Lebanese politics?

Middle East

As the Lebanese government is being formed, Lebanese women launch a campaign to pressure winning parties and coalitions to have at least 30% of the ministries and cabinet position be held by women in the upcoming government.

Following the 6th May 2018 Lebanese General Elections, the “Leading Women Association” has launched a campaign entitled “How many female ministers will you appoint?”. Although the Prime Minister has been appointed, the Lebanese Government has not been formed; as a result, female activists are pushing political parties to include more positions for female candidates. “This campaign seeks to question political parties and coalition leaders about female ministers,” says Joel Bu Farhat, a member of the ‘Leading Women Association’. “Because as you know the previous government promised to appoint female ministers and we are questioning the implementation of these promises.” Part of the campaign was the utilisation of journalists who can ask these politicians during exclusive interviews. “Your excellence Nabih Berri,” one interviewer asks, “Lebanese people are asking how many women will be involved in the decision-making when it comes to the future government.”

Much of what the association is demanding for is based on international agreements that Lebanon has agreed to but has not yet implemented. Among these agreements is the CEDAW agreement signed in 1979, which promised the elimination of female discrimination, and the Beijing Declaration signed in 1995 that stipulates that the whole government must aim to have at least 30% female representation within governmental bodies.

In 2012, female representation in the Lebanese parliament was 3.1%, compared to Iraq in 2014, which was at 26.5%.

Prior to the May parliamentary elections, Lebanon changed the election laws to include a quota for female representatives in government. Despite the legislation, female candidates still found it hard to make headway during campaign season.

After years of unfulfilled promises, Lebanese citizens are demanding that female representation should not be limited to parliamentary positions and is preferably expanded into ministerial positions. “Women should have leading roles in the cabinet,” said a Lebanese man.

“The ministry cabinet should be made up of women only in my opinion because they work harder and they multitask and so get more done in less time,” a Lebanese woman said.
With these demands and calls for an increased role of female representation in government, citizens are anticipating that political parties include more female roles in the upcoming government, especially since Lebanon prides itself for being a liberal nation.