Gender Equity Network
Issue 14, June 2019 - العدد رقم ١٤، حزيران ٢٠١٩
This infographic presents a mapping of the main Women’s Political Empowerment (WPE) and Women’s Political Participation (WPP) initiatives in Lebanon from 2009 to 2019. These initiatives were grouped according to four primary key themes, the main focus of these programs as well as their type of activity. The visual below highlights an overwhelming focus of initiatives on women’s political participation in the formal political arena, without giving much consideration to political empowerment outside the realm of formal politics.
The question of women’s political participation in Lebanon could not be more timely. As of 17 October 2019, nation-wide protests have erupted in response to increasing austerity measures that culminated in a tax on Voice over IP (VoIP) calls, commonly referred to as the “WhatsApp tax.” Calls for a non-sectarian and “non-political” revolution have drawn Lebanese representing nearly every sect, every class, and every gender out into the streets, which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 29, 2019.
The 2018 parliamentary elections in Lebanon witnessed the largest participation of women in the country’s history with 86 out 113 female candidates making it on the final electoral lists (Baturni and Halinan 2018, 1-3). Yet, out of the 128 elected candidates, only 6 were women (The Daily Star 2018). More recently, since the October 2019 protests, women have been at the forefront of mobilisations, organising sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, and chanting feminist slogans.
This policy brief explores how—despite widespread citizen frustration—the status quo prevailed. The brief will subject the above paradoxes to greater empirical scrutiny, with particular attention to the performance of new actors. It draws findings from an analysis of election results, participant observation of the campaign period, and focus group interviews conducted before and after the election.
This policy brief was developed based on an in-depth report titled “Women’s Political Participation: Exclusion and Reproduction of Social Roles. Case Studies from Lebanon;” in addition to discussions and insights gathered during a consultation workshop held on 8 November 2018, and which marked the participation of women who had taken part of the research, as well as activists, representatives of civil society organisations, and academics.