Increasing Women’s Political Participation in Lebanon: Reflections on Hurdles, Opportunities and Hope

  •  Tanya Henderson    
  •  Camille Nelson    
  •  Zeina Chemali    


Lebanon stands out in the Middle East for its relative political openness, religious freedom, and the academic and professional achievements of Lebanese women. Yet, paradoxically, it has one of the lowest rates of women’s political participation in the region. This paper is the result of an initiative undertaken by the Lebanese government in July 2012 to increase women’s political participation. Through this initiative, sex-segregated workshops on women’s political empowerment were held for male and female representatives of Lebanon’s political parties. The goal was to start a productive conversation that would ultimately lead to progress from the 2012 status quo of women constituting only three percent of the National Parliament of Lebanon. In this paper, we will describe the process and content explored during the women’s political empowerment workshops. Opportunities to affect change of the current level of women’s participation will be highlighted and conclusions will be drawn to aid similar initiatives.

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