In the 2009 elections, only 12 women were among the 706 candidates running for elections.
In the 2018 elections, a record total of 111 women have submitted their papers to run for office.
This is definitely good news and a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day, which happens to be today, but what remains to be seen is the number of women who will succeed and whether representation for women in parliament will eventually improve or not. Also, and I believe someone needs to do this exercise, we need to see how many women ruling political parties did include on their lists and whether they’re truly committed to empowering women or it’s just talk.
On a more important note, we haven’t seen yet what these female candidates’ agenda is, or at least most of them, and whether they are committing to improving women rights or not. If some of them don’t have an agenda yet, I recommend they read HRW’s five steps to improving women rights in Lebanon, which include:
1- Providing equal rights to women and men to confer nationality to their children.
2- Setting 18 as the minimum marriage age and work on reducing child marriage.
3- Committing to support amending this law to end all forms of domestic violence and ensure that the legal definition of rape is comprehensive and does not make exceptions for marital rape.
4- Supporting more effective enforcement of Lebanon’s anti-trafficking laws and decriminalizing consensual adult sex work.
5- Committing to extend labor law protections to domestic workers and to reform the kafala sponsorship system.
Needless to say, men should also commit to such points but that ship has sailed a long time ago, especially when past governments couldn’t even name more than 1 female minister and the only ministry for women affairs was handed to a man.
All in all, it’s awesome news to see so many women defying the odds and I hope we will be seeing plenty of them in parliament soon. Happy International Women’s Day!