Lebanese Women Look To Break Patriarchal Hierarchy In Elections

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“I wasn’t able to change things as a journalist. I have to be within Parliament to take part in legislating and modernizing the laws.”

 

Lebanese women have finally decided that to bring about change, you have to be the change.

In a vow to fight against gender discrimination, at least 83 women are running in the parliamentary election in Lebanon, a considerable increase in the number of female candidates since the last election.

When the last elections took place in the country nine years ago, only 12 female candidates ran for legislative office compared to almost 600 men. Although the number has since drastically increased, female candidates think more women need to come forward.

Jessica Azar, 31, is a local news presenter who is running for the first time. According to her, the number of female candidates is still not high enough.

“I am more than glad to witness women’s engagement in politics and public affairs reaching a new level, however, this is only 11.37 percent of the total number of candidates,” she said.

“Lebanese women are facing discrimination under some of the current laws, and only their vote will assure them that change will be made. And change can only be made by voting for people you find worthy of your votes.”

Running for the Sunni seat in Akkar, Ghoulay Al-Assaad is the youngest election candidate at 25.

“We want to support women in all fields, provide education for all young people, provide jobs for them and prevent further migration,” she said.

Women running for the elections have decided to leave their prior professions behind, in order to gain a significant role in improving laws regarding women and help battle gender discrimination.

Journalist Viollete Ghazal is running for the Greek Orthodox seat in Metn.

“I know the problems of society and know which deals that take place in it. I wasn’t able to change things as a journalist. I have to be within Parliament to take part in legislating and modernizing the laws. Joining the list of the ‘Phalangist’ opposition party was in line with my aspirations,” she said.

Another candidate for the Greek Orthodox seat in the Chouf-Aley district in Mount Lebanon, Zoya Jureidini, is fueled by a different reason. As a chair of the association of “Enough” campaign, which fights violence against women, she found it extremely difficult to sway the government to change laws to protect women. She knew it was time to take charge.

“There is a dominant macho mentality in Parliament that avoids any modifications that may affect the personal laws in Lebanon, so much so that we now feel as if we are begging for our rights from the Parliament,” she said.

Rula Al-Jaroudi, the only candidate on the “Future Is for Beirut” electoral list headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, promised she would fight to change prejudiced laws against women.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

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