Four months before the scheduled date of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, the country is witnessing an unprecedented movement aimed at increasing the number of female representation in Parliament, which has been very shy since 1953, when women were granted the right to vote and to run for the elections.
Despite the fact that most of the Lebanese political parties have intended to drop the “women quota” from the new electoral law, whether because some considered it to be contrary to the principle of equality or have clearly expressed their rejection of women reaching parliament, the number of women wishing to run for the elections rose significantly this year, especially since the new proportional law, according to electoral experts, increases the chances of women to win parliamentary seats.
Women’s councils and organizations have worked hard to push for the inclusion of a “women's quota” in the new electoral law voted last summer. However, lack of an agreement to pass this quota as the result of some of undeclared “vetoes”, mainly by Hezbollah, have led to the failure of all efforts in this regard.
During a recent conference in Beirut entitled “Enhancing the Role of Political Parties in Promoting Women’s Representation in the 2018 Parliamentary Elections”, Rima Fakhri, a member of the Political Council of Hezbollah, explicitly declared that her party had reservations over a woman’s participation in the elections because “it will be at the expense of her family.”
State Minister for Women’s Affairs Jean Hogassapian said that the adoption of the current law (preferential vote) “has made the parties look for names capable of collecting the largest number of electoral votes, in order to guarantee the victory of the list as a whole.”
He noted, however, that the current law presented a better opportunity for women wishing to run outside the party framework, since it was based on the proportional system.
After announcing her resignation on Wednesday as host of “Inter-views” on Lebanese broadcast channel Future TV, journalist Paula Yacoubian revealed that she would run for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Beirut’s first electoral district, on the “civil society list.”
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Yaacoubian said: “We are working on a large electoral project and we are waiting to inform people about it before talking about any chances of winning or losing.”
Mirna al-Boustani was the first woman to break the wall of the Lebanese parliament under the term of late President Fouad Shehab in 1963. Since that date, women have remained outside the parliament until the 1992 elections, but their presence was very shy in all successive parliaments and governments.