By Enora Castagne
BEIRUT. Sit-ins, lobbying the government and further public awareness will be part of a new drive to eliminate gender-based discrimination, activists said Thursday.
A sit-in in front of Parliament will take place on Nov. 13, and another one is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10, which marks U.N. Human Rights Day.
Campaigners from the group N-Cedaw, or the national committee to promote an end to discrimination against women, acknowledged that public enthusiasm for the campaign has dipped recently, prompting a decision to step up their efforts.
After a meeting at UNESCO Palace, N-Cedaw activists announced they would organize conferences around the country and distribute leaflets reading “Because they are my children, they deserve to get my nationality.”
The group has petitioned Prime Minister Najib Mikati to demand that men and women enjoy equal opportunity to gain public sector employment.
The activists praised Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas for easing restrictions on granting work permits to non-Lebanese husbands and children of Lebanese women, but said more needed to be done.
The group wants to see the foreign husband of a Lebanese woman enjoy the same labor rights as locals, instead of the current requirement of a work permit, renewable every three years.
N-Cedaw’s core demand involves the right of a Lebanese mother to pass on her nationality to her children. The group has lobbied the government on this but no action has been forthcoming.
“The major reason for this silence is related to the issue of Palestinian men,” said activist Sana Solh.
Christian political parties are opposed to efforts to grant Lebanese women the right to pass on nationality to their children amid reports many are married to Palestinians, and the move would alter the country’s demographic balance.
Veteran activist Linda Matar said the latest drive was being made in a bid “to touch the numerous families that are concerned but who stay silent … We invite all of them to participate.”
Thursday’s meeting gathered concerned nationals from the United States, Madagascar and Mozambique.
They also included Mustafa Shaar, whose mother is Lebanese but whose father’s parents were refused Lebanese nationality decades ago, due to a physical disability. “So according to the law I have no nationality,” Shaar said.
For further information, contact N-Cedaw on Facebook, or call 01-817820 the Lebanese League for Women’s Rights hotline.