By Dana Khraiche
BEIRUT: Feminists and activists criticized the absence of women in Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s newly formed Cabinet Monday.
At a time when women’s issues are gaining momentum in Lebanon with the approval of several women’s rights legal amendments, activists described the new Cabinet as a step back for gender equality.
“We hoped to see women in the [Cabinet] and we consider this be to be a step back for us,” Zoya Rouhana, head of the civil society organization KAFA (Enough Violence and Exploitation), told The Daily Star, adding that the new lineup reinforces the weak participation of women in political life.
There were two women in former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Cabinet: the finance minister and a state minister.
Nadine Moawad, a gender-equality activist also voiced concern over the new Cabinet, slamming the alienation of women from political life.
“The women’s movement rejects this total alienation of women from the Cabinet and in the Lebanese political arena in general,” Nadine wrote on her blog after Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the Cabinet lineup.
“[The appointed ministers] are the same old men who have been major players in the political vacuum in the country,” Moawad told The Daily Star, while also warning that social issues, including those affecting women, could end up shelved because of bickering in the new government.
Moawad additionally criticized the choice for the youth and culture minister, Faisal Karami, who offended activists last week by describing the draft law to protect women from domestic violence as a blow to family values.
Last month women’s rights groups celebrated the approval of several legal parliamentary committee amendments calling to repeal the so-called “honor killing law” and remove gender bias engrained in the social security, tax and inheritance systems.
However, these amendments require a majority vote in the Parliament to pass.