31 women from different political parties, CSOs and NGOs participated in the Gender and Elections BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) training that was organized by the UNDP Lebanese Elections Assistance Project (LEAP) on the 6th and 7th of December 2016 at the Phoenicia hotel in Beirut.
The training aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness of the scope of Temporary Special Measures, and building capacity to advocate for affirmative actions and Temporary Special Measures.
During the closing session, Dr. Alexis Loeber, head of cooperation / Charge d’Affaires at the European Union delegation to Lebanon, and Mr. Edgard Chehab, Assistant Resident Representative at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), distributed certificates to the participants.
Mr. Loeber delivered a speech affirming that “political participation of women must be viewed as critical for democracy, good governance, and policymaking that reflects the needs of all Lebanese citizens. Both men and women must be actively engaged in addressing the barriers to women’s political participation and must take concrete steps to create opportunities for women to successfully enter Lebanon’s political processes”. He stated that a collective endeavor by all: political parties, religious leaders, civil society and the media to play a role in overcoming the structures and the traditions that hamper women’s presence in political life.
In his speech, Mr. Chehab praised the activities that were implemented “to promote and enhance women’s participation in political life in Lebanon, including this successful training”. He commended LEAP’s role in the organization and conduct of the 2016 municipal elections, assuring that “the project is ready to provide assistance during the upcoming parliamentary elections”. Mr. Chehab also thanked the EU for its continuous support to the project and its activities.
The training’s sessions tackled subjects such as international standards for credible elections, sex and gender definitions, electoral cycle and gender, electoral systems overview, women representation, quota controversies, quota in single-member districts, political parties’ role in enhancing women participation, amongst others.
It should be noted that Lebanon is among the last 10 countries in the world classification of Women’s participation in parliaments, occupying the 178th place out of 185 according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s global rankings of women’s representation in Parliament and is behind most countries in the Arab region as well. The Lebanese parliament consists of 4 women out of the 128 deputies which is a 3.12%. This percentage is very poor in comparison to different Arab countries that have implemented the quota and other temporary special measures.
Initiated in 2013, the UNDP Lebanese Elections Assistance Project (LEAP) aims to strengthen the electoral management and administration capacity of the key stakeholder, and support credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process in Lebanon. The project works towards strengthening the capacity to manage all aspects of the electoral cycle, including elections management, electoral campaigns, voter education, public participation initiatives and the resolution of electoral disputes.