Category Archives: Society

How is Saudi Arabia a Better Country for Women than Lebanon?

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lb1 An Online campaign shedding the light on women rights in Arab countries.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 in Lebanon and around the world every year. It is a a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and more importantly a reminder for us here that Lebanese, and Arab women in general, are still second-class citizens.

The Lebanese laws discriminate against women and don’t guarantee their basic rights. Lebanese women cannot pass their children the Lebanese nationality if they marry a non-Lebanese, they have no legal protection against abusive husbands, they are barely represented in the government and they have to go through hell to terminate unhappy or abusive marriages among other things.

In fact, and I’m quoting HRW, “Lebanon’s current system of personal status laws violate women’s human rights, including to non-discrimination, equality in marriage, and at its dissolution, physical integrity, and health.”

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Despite all that, I’m finding it hard to believe that Saudi Arabia got a better rank than Lebanon in the 2015 Gendar Gap report. The Global Gender Gap Index is a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress and is published by the World Economic Forum. It is based on four indexes:
– Economic Participation and Opportunity
– Educational Attainment
– Health and Survival
– Political Empowerment

KSA Lebanon - Copy [High-Res]

The worst part is that Saudi Arabia got a much better rank in political empowerment than Lebanon. I don’t know how it’s possible to compare the two systems and how the Saudi regime is more favorable to women than the Lebanese one to be honest.

If we dig deeper into that index, it is based on three ratios:
– Ratio: females with seats in parliament over male value
– Ratio: females at ministerial level over male value
– Ratio: number of years with a female head of state (last 50 years) over male value

Now I know that we barely have any female representatives in the parliament or as ministers, but disregarding the fact that Saudi Arabia is arguably one of the most repressive regimes in the world is quite absurd. I bet Gaddafi would have scored really high in that list with his 200+ female bodyguards lol!

You can check out the full Gap Gender Report [here].

All in all, Lebanon still has a long way before it reaches the needed level of women’s rights and freedoms but there are tens if not hundreds of NGOs working day and night to achieve that, there are even politicians (hard to believe I know!) drafting laws to make things better and concerns and issues are being voiced all the time. We cannot possibly be worst-ranked than Saudi Arabia and in the bottom 10 list.

#HarassTracker: A Platform To Report & Document Sexual Harassment in Beirut

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harass1j

Sexual harassment is rarely openly discussed in our society but it is quite common and most victims would rather keep quiet than share their stories. Normally, the police should be the first place to go to when you’re harassed but most of the time, the victims are laughed at or even harassed by police officers themselves.

That’s why three female entrepreneurs, Sandra Hassan, Myra el Mir and Nay el Rahi, have kickstarted a sexual harassment tracker in Beirut in an attempt to “empower victims to report” these crimes and “raise awareness as to the frequency and severity of sexual harassment in the city”.

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HarassTracker is a platform that allows you to pinpoint where you were subject to a harassment of any kind and add details about the perpetrator and the incident. It also gives an overview on the laws related to harassment in Lebanon and the different organizations and NGOS that can offer help to the victims. There’s no English version though of the website.

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There are already tens of testimonies posted on the website. If you can relate to any of them, do share further information in order to shed more light on the harasser and put more pressure on the police and the government to act.

Check out Harasstracker and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for further updates.

Originally posted by Gino

KAFA’s Social Experiment Reproduced in New York: When an Old Man Marries A 12 Year Old Girl

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cobypirsen Source: DailyMail

YouTube star Coby Persin brought a 65-year-old ‘groom’ and his 12-year-old ‘bride’ into Times Square in New York to stage a photoshoot. The aim was to raise awareness around the issue of child marriage and see how people would react.

The experiment was inspired from KAFA’s brilliant video that was shared back in December 2015.

Child marriage is still a huge problem in Lebanon and in the whole world. It is reported that 33,000 girls are married as children every day, and denied from their rights to education and opportunity, and robbed of their childhood.

If you wanna know about child marriage, check this [website].

[YouTube]

Thanks Nadine!

The Good Note: A Smart Initiative To Help Street Children & Child Beggars

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goodnote

What can we do to help street children? How can we help them when money is clearly not the answer? How can we make sure that the money we donate to these children is being used properly?

The sad truth is that we cannot help these children most of the time and the money that we are offering them is going to organized mobs that are recruiting and exploiting them most of the time. Moreover, our government has been neglecting this issue for a long time even though begging and child labor are both illegal in Lebanon and the only organization in Lebanon that offers a refuge to both Lebanese and non-Lebanese street children (Home of Hope) is not receiving enough funds to do its job.

These children need to be taken out of the street and put back in school, but things are easier said and the Syrian crisis has unfortunately made things even worse. Hundreds if not thousands of families are living in the streets of Beirut and you cannot go anywhere without spotting child beggars these days.

So What Can Be Done?

As I’ve stated in a previous post, we need a new strategy to cope with this ever-growing problem and the work that the ministry of social affairs has been doing is less than pathetic. We need new ideas and initiatives to help and I think “The Good Note” is a good way to start.

What is The Good Note?
“The Good Note” is an initiative kicked off by Bou Khalil supermarkets to give children on the streets the things they need, without the risk of funding any unsavory trade or perpetuating an unfortunate cycle. Good Notes are worth the same amount as the 1000 Lebanese pound bill but can only be spent at Bou Khalil Supermarkets on necessities such as food, water, household supplies, personal hygiene items and small treats. Bou Khalil Supermarket also tied up with Pharmalife pharmacy in Hazmieh so that Good Notes can also be used to buy medicine to those in need.

You can buy these good notes in bonds of five at all 11 Bou khalil supermarket branches across Lebanon and Pharmalife pharmacy in Hazmieh. Dar Bistro in Hamra is also selling them.

Will It Work?
“The Good Note” will not bring these children back to school or out of the street, but it will encourage more people to help them and provide them indirectly with the things they need. I love the initiative and what would make it even better is if these notes are used and shared by other supermarkets and corporate and non-corporate entities. We need a large network of supermarkets and shops to join Bou Khalil because these children are unfortunately everywhere. For example, if you wish to give good notes to street children in Achrafieh, they will have to go all the way to Kraytem to claim these notes so it’s not very practical.

Nevertheless, thumbs up to Bou Khalil for coming up with this nice idea! You can read more about it [here].

#PositiveTouch – Helping NGOs That Matter This Christmas

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vote

Christmas is a time for giving but it’s always important to give to the right organizations & NGOs that are really making a difference in our Lebanese society. Unfortunately, we have more NGOs than people in need in Lebanon (not really but you get my point) and very few of them are truly worth supporting. Among these very few, Brave Heart Fund, Association for Forests Development and Conservation (AFDC) & the Nawaya Network are NGOs that I highly respect and admire and that I’ve been supporting for years. I love what they stand for, how they are positively impacting our society and I applaud Touch for kicking off this initiative and selecting all three of them to support during Christmas.

About the NGOS:
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AFDC: This is one of the oldest and most active NGOs in Lebanon that deal with the environment and work on achieving a sustainable conservation of natural resources, as well as raising awareness and building capacities to contribute to the national efforts for better environmental management. They’ve been lobbying for years for changes in environmental and sustainable development policies and preventing harm to the environment despite all the difficulties.

Brave Heart Fund: “No child should die from heart disease because of a lack of funds”. That’s what this NGO has been trying to achieve for years by collecting funds to help treat babies diagnosed with heart diseases at birth. 100% of all donations are used to cover medical expenses and they’ve been able to save a lot of children since 2003.

The Nawaya Network: I’ve been supporting and following up on this NGO since day 1 and their award-winning online platform has been helping connect promising disadvantaged youth with mentors, businesses, and institutions since 2013.

How Can You Help?
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The #PositiveTouch campaign is aimed at raising awareness on these NGOs but will also result in supporting one of them financially with $15,000. People will get to vote for their favorite NGO by using the #PositiveTouch and #(NameofNGO) (#‎Nawaya‬, #‪‎AFDCLebanon‬ or ‪#‎BraveHeartFund‬) on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and Touch will reward the people’s choice by the end of the campaign on December 27 at midnight.

What matters the most is that all three NGOs will gain a substantial exposure and that people will get to engage in a socially responsible discussion for a change and help trend hashtags that actually make sense and that can leave a positive impact on our society.

So let’s start voting and raising awareness on important causes and a Merry Christmas to you all!

Amal Clooney Launches Scholarship To Support Bright And Talented Lebanese Women

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100 lives via Hello Mag

Amal Clooney is a successful British-Lebanese lawyer and activist known for leading numerous high-profile human rights cases. She recently represented Armenia in a genocide trial and was ranked the second most powerful Arab woman last year.

Clooney is quite an exceptional woman, an inspirational role model for young women around the world, a hard worker and she’s doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. In fact, Amal just launched her new annual scholarship which will fund secondary schooling for one girl from her home country Lebanon. The scholarship is in partnership with 100 Lives and will “send one female student from Lebanon to United World College in Dilijan, Armenia, each year to enroll in a two-year international baccalaureate program”.

“This scholarship will give young women from Lebanon the opportunity of a lifetime,” the British barrister said in a statement. “Cross-cultural learning and studying abroad can be transformative. I am grateful to 100 Lives for helping to open doors for these bright and talented young women.” Participants will be chosen each year “based on their exemplary academic performance and demonstrable interest in the promotion of human rights and international issues,” the statement said.

The scholarship’s first recipient is Lebanese student Pamela Tebchrany, who graduated at the top of her class and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. She’s planning on pursuing her interests in human rights and women’s equality.

A great initiative coming from an exceptional woman! We need more women like Amal in Lebanon and the world.

Syrian Father Who Used To Sell Pens In Beirut Streets Now Owns Three Businesses!

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Syria-Lebanon2 Attar is running 3 businesses now – via HUSSEIN MALLA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

We frequently hear terrible stories from Syria or related to Syrian refugees, but there are also inspiring stories that will restore your faith in humanity. Abdul Halim Attar is a Palestinian-Syrian who fled to Lebanon three years ago with his two children and has been selling pens in the streets of Beirut to make ends meet.

A journalist shared his picture on Twitter and within hours, his story went viral and a crowdfunding campaign was kicked off. Over $190,000 were collected online and two months later, Abdul Halim al-Attar started three businesses and is employing 16 other Syrian refugees.

More importantly, he moved with his two kids to a two-bedroom apartment and put back his 9-year old Abdullah went back to school after three years of absence. He also gave around $25,000 to friends and relatives in Syria.

All in all and as I stated previously, if this story proves anything, it’s that people are more than willing to help when they are given the opportunity and that small initiatives like this one can help change someone’s life positively.

Does anyone know where his restaurant is located? I want to visit soon.

Check out the full story on [Telegraph] and [Mashable].

BuyPens

Lebanese React To An Old Man Marrying a 12 Year Old Girl

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wedd1

Child marriage is still a huge problem in Lebanon and is simply wrong. There are no official stats on child marriage in Lebanon but girls are generally more impacted than boys. These girls are not physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, and they are at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications and suffering domestic violence. [Source]

I loved KAFA’s initiative to tackle this issue and it’s good to see people reacting the way they did, however civil authorities have no role to play here because of the religious tribunals and therefore the law protects this man.

Sickening but true …

[YouTube]

How Syrian Child Refugees Survive Beirut’s Streets

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guardian

Childhood has been put on hold for tens of thousands of refugee children who work long hours in detrimental conditions and sleep on the street to provide for their families. This catastrophic lifestyle poses serious risks on their physical and mental well-being and they need every help they could get, but unfortunately we all know Lebanon is incapable of handling the situation.

What we can do as Lebanese though is treat them nicely, offer food, work with NGOs to get them out of the street, enroll them in schools since they are for free this year etc …

Check out the full Guardian report [here].

That’s Bilal, he’s been here for four years. His father is dead, he lives with his mother and sisters. If he doesn’t get money, his sisters will beat him.

Moussa, he’s 14 years old. He works to get money for his father.

Bambi and Khaled. They work for themselves, nobody takes money from them. They sleep on the streets, they are homeless. They don’t have anyone to take care of them.

cedars