Lebanon is campaigning to get at least five times more women elected to Parliament this spring in its first vote in nearly 10 years, the country’s first women’s affairs minister says. It is a daunting task for a Middle Eastern country that may otherwise look like one of the most liberal in the region.
Despite a relatively free press, diverse religious groups and women in prominent positions in the business world and the media, Lebanon ranks surprisingly low when it comes to female representation in politics, and politicians have failed to act on a movement to institute a quota for women in Parliament.
“Keeping women from public life is not only a loss for women. It is a loss for the Parliament,” Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Jean Ogasapian told the Associated Press. “The main obstacles are mentality, a philosophy of life, and this needs time,” he said.
There are only four women in the outgoing Parliament elected in 2009, a flimsy 3 percent of its 128 lawmakers. It was a drop from 2005, when six women were elected. Since 2004, there have been one or at most two posts for women in government.
Compared to other countries in the region, Lebanon ranks as one of the lowest in terms of female representation in Parliament, with only Oman, Kuwait and Yemen having fewer. Oman and Kuwait have one and two women representatives respectively. War-torn Yemen has none and is currently without a functioning Parliament.
Click here to read the full article published by ABC News on 21 January 2018.