With support from the EU-funded “DAWRIC" project, the British Council organised today a panel discussion on challenges and solutions related to women's political participation in Lebanon. The event was organised in collaboration with Maharat Foundation and the Committee for the Follow up on Women Issues (CFUWI),
One of DAWRIC's main objectives is to promote gender equality in the political sphere and in decision-making processes at local and national levels in Lebanon. Today’s event included the launch of an awareness campaign on women's political participation, as a step forward to achieve gender equality in Lebanon.
The British Council described how they promote gender equality in Lebanon. CFUWI announced the two priorities for DAWRIC’s advocacy campaign, including women's political participation and the personal status law in Lebanon. Maharat Foundation stressed on the important role of media and communication in promoting women political participation.
The Minister of State for Women's Affairs Jean Oghassabian stressed that "women's work should not be limited to gender issues as they have a bigger role to play in national issues, such as the economy, security, and oil and gas."
The panel that followed discussed the challenges facing women in politics and the solutions paving the way to increased participation through strategies and policies at the local and international level, in addition to the role of media in providing more space for women in the public sphere.
EU Ambassador Christina Lassen explained that the EU works hard to advance gender equality and women empowerment worldwide. "In Lebanon, we specifically focus on barriers in the law, gender-based violence and women's participation in politics. But change has to come from Lebanon, and the EU is here to help," she said. "We help by supporting organisations that share our values and belief in gender equality and by implementing projects like DAWRIC that contribute to this goal", she added.
British Ambassador Hugo Shorter expressed his wish to see more men involved in the fight for gender equality. He said that "the #HeForShe campaign should become the norm. Men should be campaigning for gender equality as much as women, because the decision-making process involves everyone."
Furthermore, the National Commission for Lebanese Women's President Claudine Aoun Roukoz said: "The international community is here to support Lebanon, and we have a common agenda on gender equality. However, the pressure to change the status quo should come from the Lebanese, especially NGOs."
Finally, media host Georges Salibi described how years ago, women were almost absent from the media. "But the times are changing", he said. "Today it is easier to host women, not only to discuss gender equality, but also to talk about various political, social and economic issues", he added.
“DAWRIC - Direct Action for Women: Reform, Inclusion and Confidence” is implemented by the British Council. It aims to build women’s capacity and to provide broad-based support for their active involvement in combating poverty among Lebanese women and ensuring gender equality in the political and decision-making realm. DAWRIC’s activities are implemented in 22 towns in the North, the South, the Beqaa, and in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.