Under the patronage of H.E. Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Mrs. Raya Haffar El Hassan, the European Union Delegation to Lebanon and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a conference entitled “Parliamentary Elections 2022: Electoral Reforms and Gender Equality” on Thursday 23 May at the Movenpick hotel in Beirut.
The conference aimed to bring together relevant national and international stakeholders to discuss possible ways to kick start further electoral reforms. It underlined the joint commitment of the EU and UN in providing support and initiatives for even more inclusive and fair elections and to improve election opportunities for women and enhance their role and political representation.
In her opening remarks, EU Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen said that "despite the increase in the number of female candidates in the past elections, women remain severely underrepresented in politics in Lebanon". She believes the underrepresentation of women in political life " could be addressed through special measures such as quota for women on the candidate lists, equal opportunities for all political candidates to access media and clear regulation and transparency when it comes to campaign financing".
Ambassador Lassen also emphasised that participation of the youth needs to be looked at carefully, suggesting targeted campaigns for youth to vote and run for elections, while at the same time highlighting the role of the media in providing equal access to candidates such as a distinction between ' free of charge' editorial coverage and 'paid for access' .
The new Gender Observatory whose establishment the EU is supporting through another programme will ensure Lebanon has a mechanism to collect data on the needs of women on a political, economic and social level in the country to track progress in those domains.
UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Celine Moyroud said : "The UN advocates for renewed joint efforts to create a conducive electoral environment and proper conditions for vulnerable and marginalized groups to participate in the process of electing their representatives. Our future electoral assistance programs will focus more on women, youth and persons with disabilities and will intently reach communities throughout the country."
The conference featured a panel discussion and the launch of the UNDP thematic brochure - Gender Key Results – Parliamentary Elections 2018 – which was based on the results of the 2018 parliamentary elections and put forward recommendations for a national strategy to endorse and implement reforms in the next electoral cycle.