The National Conference: Study on “Women’s Participation in Public Life”

The National Conference to Present the Study onWomen’s Participation in Public Life,” a Project on “Encouraging Marginalized Voices in the Lebanese Political Process”

Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel, Beirut

July 26, 2018

Thank you very much and good Morning everyone.  Your Excellency, Minister Jean Ogassabian, State Minister for Women’s Affairs, Members of the Parliament and their representatives, other ministers present and their representatives, the board and the members of the Arab Center for the Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity (ACRLI), and our distinguished guests.  Good morning to everyone and thank you so much for being here for this very important day.

I am very pleased to join you for the presentation of the study on “Women’s Participation in Public Life.”  This very important study is part of ACRLI’s project on “Encouraging Marginalized Voices in the Lebanese Political Process,” which the U.S. Department of State through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is supporting.

I would like to say that this Conference could not come at a more important time.  Lebanon has just held its first election in nine years and there were an unprecedented number of women who took action to run for office.

Six of them won, which is an increase from four in the last parliament and that is good.  But it is not good enough.

There are still many barriers to women’s participation in public life.  Some of them are procedural, like automatically changing a woman’s place of registration to her husband’s when she is married.  And some of them are informal like cultural bias against the participation of women in politics.

I’d like to point out the European Union’s electoral monitoring mission- who was here during the last election in May- have made a few concrete recommendations from their analysis of the last election and several of them are explicitly gender-related.

So I am very much looking forward to today’s event, where I hope we are going to see the identification of some additional concrete areas that need work.  I think we will find there is a lot of overlap in combination in these two studies.

The U.S. government’s support to ACRLI and other non-profit and civil society organizations (CSO) is a very important part of our engagement in Lebanon.  And I think it compliments what we’re doing in other areas, in education, in economic growth, and in national security.

Currently MEPI is implementing over $40 million dollars in grants in these areas.  But, it is very important to note that outsiders cannot make the kind of change that is needed.  We can only support Lebanese who want change and who will work for change.  And so I would like to take a moment really to recognize all of you who are here today and your organizations for having made the decision to get actively involved.

A very wise female member of Lebanon’s parliament was saying to me just this morning that awareness raising on women’s issues in Lebanon has been very successful.  There are many NGO’s and other organizations who have been working hard on these issues.

But now is the time for action.  And action will require all of these different organizations, all of you here in this room, to work together- and to work with your Members of Parliament to make real change.  This is the time for action.  This is the time for networking.  This is the time for prioritizing.  Two, three, four things that really will make a difference and everybody working together on those couple of things.

We are very happy to have supported the National Conference on Women’s Participation in Public Life.  I would really like to commend ACRLI, the National Commission for Lebanese Women, the Ministry of Social Affairs Women’s Unit, and the Ministry of State for Women’s Affairs for their cooperation, for their hard work on this project, but also nationwide and everything that they do to advance women’s equality here in Lebanon.

So thank you very much for being here, I am looking forward to the study and as I say for all of us it is really time to get to work

Thank you very much.