Amidst all the gloomy news and dispiriting just-ins invading our feeds every day, it’s quite nice to come across some uplifting stories, every now and then, that remind us that there are still things, however small, to rejoice over in Lebanon.
One such ongoing story is about the 6 women participating in our newborn, 20-minister-cabinet. These new ministers have taken the spotlight since the announcement of the members of the cabinet this Tuesday, January 21st.
Zeina Akar: Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Defense
Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management from the Lebanese American University and 20 years of practical, administrative, and research experience.
For a woman to hold these two positions at once is unprecedented in the Middle East; Lebanon has become the first to have, simultaneously, a woman Defense Minister and a woman Deputy Prime Minister.
Manal Abdel-Samad: Minister of Information
Dr. Manal Abdel-Samad used to be Head of the Legislation and Tax Policies Department in the Directorate of VAT at the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, she has worked as a lecturer at Saint Joseph University in Beirut.
Abdel-Samad holds a Ph.D. in law, which she acquired from the Paris-1 Sorbonne University in 2015; she had excellent grades and received first-in-class honors and a remark of recognition from the examining committee.
Vartine Ohanian: Minister of Youth and Sports
A Lebanese University Social Sciences graduate, Vartine Ohanian also holds a Diploma in Project Management from the Haigazian University in Beirut.
Ohanian is the Director of the Tanusheus Visitor Center for Education and Rehabilitation for Persons with Special Needs.
Lamia Yammine: Minister of Labor
The new Lebanese Minister of Labor is Lamia Yammine; an architectural consultant and university professor.
She has been a Member of the Board of Directors at Douaihy Pour Le Bois Company since 1998, and teaching at the Architecture and Interior Engineering departments of the Lebanese University, specifically the third branch of the Faculty of Fine Arts, since 2002.
Ghada Chreim: Minister of State for the Displaced
Ghada Chreim holds a Ph.D. in French Literature, is Supervisor of Fayrouz Magazine, and the Director of the Lebanese University’s Institute of Arts and Humanities – Fourth Branch – where she also teaches.
Furthermore, Chreim owns the page called “السياسة كلمة مؤنث” (Politics is a Feminine Word). She is an advocate of women’s rights and actively works to achieve the political rights of Lebanese women.
Marie-Claude Najem: Minister of Justice
A professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Saint Joseph University in Beirut and Head of the Department of Private Law, she’s also the director of the Centre of Legal Studies and Research for the Arab World.
Marie-Claude Najem is also an appellate attorney affiliated with the Beirut Bar Association. She holds a BA in Law and a Postgraduate Diploma in Private Law from the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, and a Ph.D. in Private International Law in Beirut.
Lebanon is now the first Middle Eastern country to have 6 female officials in its cabinet, breaking its own record of 4, which it had set in last year’s cabinet formation.
Aside from the new government’s plans and trustability, this in itself is a step in the right direction for Lebanese politics.
Hence, despite women having a say in Lebanese politics more than ever before, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to make any claims about gender equality (or equity) in our country.
Nevertheless, to avoid ending on a bitter note and turning this into a gloomy story (see introduction), it should be safe to expect this gap to decrease in the coming years.
That’s with, hopefully, more women becoming involved in the Lebanese political scene and policy-making; especially considering that one of these new officials is a vocal activist for the rights of Lebanese women.