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More than 500 participants were involved in the awareness sessions that were conducted in Lebanon ahead of the parliamentary elections in the framework of the EU-funded "Lebanese Electoral Assistance Project" (LEAP). The sessions reached out to women candidates and voters in general, and focused on: new articles in the electoral law, legal framework, required documents to run for elections, pre-printed ballot papers, preferential vote, electoral campaign, negotiations and networking. The sessions resulted in identifying women across Lebanon who are willing to run for elections, encouraging women's candidacy as well as women and men to vote for female candidates, and providing potential candidates with technical support and networking tactics. Since the beginning of the LEAP project in 2013, a total of 1500 women and men participated in the awareness sessions.
"To all the Lebanese women, we count on you to reclaim your political space! If you are still hesitating whether or not you should present your candidacy, don't, go and register and run for elections. Participate in your local communities, engage in civil society and in women's organisations, and finally vote for female candidates," EU Deputy of Mission Julia Koch de Biolley said in her opening remarks. She considered that "this is what a true democracy looks like: Men and women getting involved on equal terms in the decisions and processes that affect their lives."
LEAP, which is implemented by UNDP, has provided approximately €8 million to support the electoral process in Lebanon by strengthening the management and administration capacities of the Lebanese Administration in line with international standards and the EU Electoral Observation Mission recommendations of 2005 and 2009. One of its components provides support to women candidates and voters.
The closing ceremony of the training sessions, which was organised by UNDP, UN Women and Women in Front, took place in the presence of EU Deputy Head of Mission Julia Koch de Biolley, UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini, women candidates and representatives from women civil society organisations.