Women in Front
Lebanese women won the right to vote and to participate in national elections in 1952 but since then only 17 women have served in Lebanon’s Parliament. Most of these women who have served come from wealthy families and have little or none political experience, but with the help of male family members they have made it into Parliament.
“Women in Municipal” is a project formed by an organization called Women in Front which is a group that aims to promote women in politics by encouraging them to contribute in creating a new modern and reformed Lebanese society. Recently a milestone for all Lebanese women was set with funding help from the Middle East Partnership Affairs and Refugees (MEPI). MEPI has made it possible for 70 women to enter the 2016 municipal elections in Lebanon in order to break the male domination in local government.
The 12 month project identified 300 women from all areas of Lebanon and from that list 70 women were provided with extensive training. The women learned about topics such as municipal work, law, budgets, leadership skills, electoral campaigns and public speaking. “Our main goal is to shed light on experienced women, push them to decision-making positions and involving them in political life,” said Nada Anid, co-founder of Women In Front.
Nouhad Macknouk Interior Minister of Lebanon addressed the crowd at the closing ceremony of the “Women in Municipalities” project event. He underlined the importance of promoting the presence of women in policies and public affairs. He also mentioned that he has offered up the positions in his ministry such as Personal Status Directorate, the Directorate of Political Affairs and Refugees and the Traffic Management Authority for three women. One candidate says “the nomination of women is necessary to ensure gender balance in Parliament and to bridge social gaps that result from neglect and imbalance.”
This is a huge win for all Lebanese women and has given hope to many women around the world who live in countries with male dominated governments. This is only the beginning of the battle for these Lebanese candidates; there are many people who do not agree with the presence of women within their ancient patriarchal system of government. Why are people so against change and why is equality so hard to come by for women in positions of political power not only in Lebanon but in many other countries?