Lebanon/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

Article 7 of the Lebanese Construction states: "All Lebanese are equal before the law. They equally enjoy civil and political rights and equally are bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction" 

The Lebanese constitution is not clear about gender equality; it only states full equality for all citizens before the law. The Lebanese law guarantees education for all citizens in all education stages (primary, secondary and university) as well as in technical and vocational education. The government policies and educational programs are free of discrimination against women.

US Department of State foreign Information Programs Office announced that the 2003 statistics indicate that the percentage of educated males is 93.1% and females is 82.2%.

In university studies, statistics indicate that women are still focusing on social sciences and humanities but they are also enrolled in such disciplines as engineering, medicine, law, commerce, finance, mathematics and computer science (Mokaddem, 1998) ( Ghada Hamdan Deeb, Lawyer). In 2003, more than 50% of university students in Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were female, while in Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia, women formed 40% of university students. The Lebanese Construction states that mixed education is not prohibited. Therefore, civil society organizations actively requested the declaration of explicit and open gender equality.

Civil society organizations and associations openly called for gender equality. The National Commission for Lebanese Women Affairs called for coordination with the Ministry of Information to involve women in educational programs related to the ministry and the Commission. It also called for coordination with the Ministry of Justice seek to develop draft laws that do not include gender-abusive texts and work to amend the existing laws. Lebanese women take part in different cultural and political fields.

The educational statistics in Lebanon indicates that women have a tendency to study in information and documentation fields.

In media for example, the idea of equal rights and obligations between men and women didn’t receive much concentration. The National Media Council was established in 1996 (all members were males) and didn’t present any woman-related policies as women are completely absent in the national media policy.

Some women associations and civil society organizations have tried to raise this issue, but equality could not be easily analyzed due to the lack of data, with the exception of some statistics provided by foreign institutions on education, sewing and some other occupations.

In politics, Khaleel Al-Sagheer mentioned the following in a study he prepared about women and their role in the Lebanese politics: despite the fact that Lebanon was the first Arab country to grant women the right to vote and to be nominated in 1952; things hadn’t gained much progress and the Lebanese woman couldn’t, except in rare cases as the heiress of a husband, father or brother, assume a position in the Lebanese politics or build an independent political or economic personality. It is enough to look at the number of Lebanese women in the field of politics or other public areas to realize the gap between the stereotyped image that Lebanese women liberated themselves from the dominating male traditions and their ability to become a productive individual.  

We couldn’t acquire percentages of women participation in the cultural field but they were active in the field of media, law and medicine and on the level of specialization and professions as well as university, research and research institutions such as the Lebanese Researcher assembly which was established 15 years ago and operates in different cultural and intellectual fields. It constitutes a pioneering experience in the Arab World as women normally contribute in cultural institutions as researchers or employees and not as founding members.

The National Strategy about Women in Lebanon 2011-2021 was launched: general outlines to be implemented

The National Commission for Lebanese Women launched "The National Strategy for Women in Lebanon 2011-2021". Fadia Kiwan, member of the Commission`s executive bureau, confirmed that the process of preparations was "participatory in nature" and the content did not come "from nowhere", rather based on a strategic combination 1997 and 2004. Kiwan identified three challenges facing the plan including: switching to a simultaneously comprehensive and precise detailed action plan, maintaining the mechanism of cooperation and partnership in all subsequent stages between the Commission and civil society organizations and state institutions, achieving factual accomplishments in terms of eliminating all kinds of discrimination against women, providing conditions of equal opportunities between men and women to ensure the latter`s participation in decision-making in all fields. On her part, Mrs. Randa Berri, the vice-president of the Commission, summarized the objectives of the Strategy as follows:

  • Achieving full citizenship on the basis of equality between men and women in   various rights, laws and fields.
  • Enhancing opportunities of girls and women in the educational domain.
  • Achieving full equality in terms of healthcare opportunities, providing services including reproductive health services.
  • Fighting poverty amongst women and paying a special attention to the issue of fighting poverty in general.
  • Enhancing women`s participation in economic life.           
  • Achieving equality in various decision-making positions and resisting all forms of violence against women.
  • Changing the stereotypes of women in culture and media.
  • Enhancing the contribution of women in environmental protection
  • Enhancing the capabilities of institutions involved in women affairs national wide.
  • Protecting  women and girls during emergency situations, armed conflicts, wars and  natural disasters.
  • Integration of gender dimension into all fields.

Berri called for achieving equality for women in the parliamentary election law, appealing all those arguing about the law to "have the courage and express their opinions about the share of women in the law they want to legislate" and reminding them of the 30% international women quota. 

Chapter published: 07-04-2016