Women’s empowerment: Law and reality
The National Commission for Lebanese Women’s Affairs in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund launched the third annual report on the implementation of the National Action Plan of the National Strategy for Women in Lebanon (2011-21).
This annual report sheds light on the programs implemented in 2015 related to women’s rights. The report was launched on June 29 by the commission’s president, Claudine Aoun Roukoz, who in her speech stressed the committee’s commitment to the 12 goals of the National Strategy for Women in Lebanon. The objective is to develop these goals in line with our national aspirations and goals aiming to achieve equality between men and women in our Lebanese society.
This objective can only be achieved by empowering and motivating women to play their role in the development of our society which will happen only should we overcome the legal, social and structural obstacles that prevent Lebanese women from participating effectively in society’s advancement. As a matter of fact, this report is an opportunity to monitor and evaluate progress and to develop a set of recommendations for improving policymaking and interventions in the future, aiming to improve the situation of women and girls in Lebanon.
The National 10-Year Strategy for Women’s Affairs 2011-2021 was set in 2011, with 12 general objectives and 12 intervention areas to abolish discrimination against women in various fields.
It was presented and described to the Cabinet during a dedicated meeting in 2012 that issued initial approval and generalized it to all ministries to send their recommendations on the laws and regulations. The strategy formulation was followed by a national action plan 2013-2016 for implementing the strategy’s objectives and another action plan 2017-2019.
The set action plans and general objectives are evaluated based on a monitoring and evaluation system that designated a number of indicators to measure the level of implementation progress.
It is worth highlighting that the strategy and the action plan formulation processes have been extensively participatory.
Moreover, the annual reports are drafted through engaging civil society, governmental and international organizations concerned with the improvement of the status of women in Lebanon and with the advancement of human rights in general.
The report highlights achievements on the level of programs such as establishing a legal observatory for gender issues in Lebanon, a women’s information center, capacity building of women for enhancing their political participation and economic situation, as well as programs for developing the institutional capacities of the NCLW.
On the other hand, it focuses on progress made on the regulatory level and the provisional amendments in discriminatory legislation against women.
The committee has worked on advocating, through different means and in partnership with different governmental and non- governmental institutions, for legal reforms, which are a prerequisite in any social transformation. The balance between the capacity building and awareness component vis-a-vis the advocacy component is key in achieving the objectives of the national strategy. Moreover, the appointment of the gender focal points and raising their capacities in the Lebanese ministries is a step further in a structural gender mainstreaming in governmental system that paves the way toward legal reforms accompanied by the social aspect at the grass-roots levels.
Hiba Huneini is the manager of the Youth and Civic Engagement Program at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.