International Women’s Day is a day to honor and empower women all over the world, in their constant struggle against the patriarchal systems oppressing them. On this day, we pay tribute to the powerful Lebanese women who continue to pave the way for an equitable society that values the safety, protection, and support of young women and girls.
However, it is also important to highlight what 2023 looks like for women and girls in Lebanon. Human Rights Watch emphasized the vulnerability of women
, among other minorities, in light of the economic crisis – and while it is important to honor women on this day, it is even more important to pay attention to the shortcomings of Lebanese society when it comes to gender equality. The Failure of Lebanese Laws
Women continue to face discrimination under religious-based personal status laws in Lebanon, particularly those related to divorce, child custody, inheritance, property rights, and nationality.
Lebanese laws perpetuate the treatment of women as second tier citizens through:
– Discriminatory Lebanese nationality laws
: Lebanese women are unable to pass Lebanese citizenship to their children. Children can only obtain citizenship through Lebanese fathers.
– The lack of criminalization of marital rape
: The Lebanese penal code defines rape as “forced sexual intercourse [against someone] who is not his wife by violence or threat”. This means that it is not illegal when performed against a spouse, and thus not an acceptable reason for divorce or legal action.
– The authority of religious courts in imposing abusive patriarchal values
: Sectarian personal status laws have left women at the mercy of patriarchal religious courts. Since the beginning of the crisis, Lebanon has witnessed a rise in cases of domestic violence and femicide. Major drops in school enrollment rates for girls in Lebanon
A 2022 report conducted by UNICEF revealed a worrying drop in school enrollment rates for girls
in Lebanon, falling from 60% in 2020-2021 to 40% in 2022. The economic crisis has accentuated the existing gender gap in education and limited further young girls’ access to quality education.
Despite the calls for action by teachers all over Lebanon, particularly those working in public schools, the government fails to address the inaccessibility to education and implement a recovery plan to protect students from the loss of their years of schooling. Low rates of women’s participation in the labor market
The Global Gender Gap report revealed that Lebanon has one of the lowest rates of women’s participation in the labor market, ranking 135th out 146 countries in economic participation and opportunity in 2022.
The United Nations’ Human Rights Council reported
On International Women’s Day, we are reminded of the treatment of gender equality as a low priority issue in Lebanon.