Lebanon’s Feminist Movements Are on the Rise for More Political Involvement

It is a long recorded fact that Lebanese women have long been limited to bloom to their full potential in contributing to the best of their country because of discrimination originating from legal, political, social, and economic structures.

The old social mindset hasn’t helped in that regard either.

However, that package along with the patriarchal and sectarian power-sharing system has further motivated our women to bring the needed changes that concord with our era.

Engaging in politics is one of the aspects in which they seek improvements to the status quo.

In attempts to increase Lebanese women’s participation in politics, the international Feminism Festival and Let’s Talk Politics group are hosting an event this week in Lebanon with Algerian activist and poet Zuleikha Tahar.

This event will concentrate on women’s role in the Lebanese revolution in comparison to the Algerian protests. It will be held on Saturday 29 February at Timmy’s pub in El-Mina, Tripoli.

In recent years, Lebanon has seen more participation of women in politics. The number of Lebanese women running for parliament has increased remarkably since 2009, with 113 women registered as candidates in 2018 in comparison to 12 women only in 2009.

During the revolution, as the nation waited for a new government to be formed, 53 qualified women were proposed as candidates by the activist movement FiftyFifty Lebanon for their recorded achievements.

They introduced “Women to Save Lebanon” in their campaign demanding not only to have women in the formation of the new government but to bring in Lebanese women proven successful in their fields to share half of the seats of the new government.

Notwithstanding, back-then assigned PM Diab Hasan formed his own government after a long back and forth with the ruling political parties and politicians, and only upon their final agreement. Surprisingly, six women were selected ministries.

Lebanon recorded then the highest number of female ministers in the history of its ‘democratic’ republic. It was deemed a progressive move; however, these women ministries have been subjected to a humiliating process of discrimination on social media, including harassment and sexism, from both genders.

Lebanese society, in general, has yet to duly evolve into taking seriously women as leaders and respect them as such, and that includes the political officials.

In that regard, Nay el-Rahi, a co-founder of HarassTracker, told The Daily Star: “Political parties deal with the electorate through these male representatives and they do not take women seriously as leaders.”

From her side, Halimé el-Kaakour, professor of Business Law and Ethics at the University of Saint Joseph, blames that gender disparity in politics on the “inequality in income and the gender pay gap,” deeming them the “root causes for inequality between men and women in political representation.”

The Lebanese revolution has given a more expansive space for feminist movements to push further with their demands for equality, and they’ve been doing exactly that.

Women’s participation in the revolution has been strikingly remarkable at many levels, from being on the front line to leading political and judicial seminars and for successfully intervening in stopping any attempt of sectarian conflicts. 

Their movements are on the rise and they are pushing to increase women’s representation in politics and in the governance of the country’s affairs.

They want to ensure that women are equally represented in Lebanon’s next parliamentary election in 2022. 

“What we want is a feminist perspective in the Cabinet, and other decision-making bodies, that can bring change to the situation of women and gender equality in Lebanon,” asserted Myriam Sfeir Murad, director of the LAU Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World.

As Nay El-Rahi stressed, “Women’s participation should increase greatly in the upcoming elections especially that they are very active in these parties.”

The Lebanese revolution has revealed to the world the strength, determination, wisdom, and leadership skills of the Lebanese women, and how fearlessly oriented they are towards a fair society for all and peaceful coexistence. They have been an inspiration to women around the world.

As Women International Day is approaching, a massive march is being planned in Lebanon to support the demands for gender equality. That along with numerous events and activities.