|Date: Apr 19, 2018|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Record women Lebanese candidates, very little coverage time|
|Agence France Presse|
BEIRUT: A record number of women are running in Lebanon’s upcoming parliamentary elections, but they are getting much less television airtime than their male counterparts, a media monitor has said.
A total of 86 women are seeking legislative office in Lebanon’s May 6 vote, out of 597 candidates.
A study by Maharat, a media monitor now closely following the elections, found television coverage of the elections rarely includes female candidates.
From March 26 until April 8, it monitored talk shows, live programing, news broadcasts and one-on-one interviews on several local television stations.
Female candidates were featured as guests just 5.89 percent of the time, Maharat said, although they make up almost 15 percent of the candidates.
The vote will be Lebanon’s first parliamentary election in nine years, after MPs extended their terms three times since 2009 citing security concerns and an unsatisfactory law.
The 128-member body agreed on a new voting system last year, paving the way for next month’s elections.
“The electoral law guarantees fair competition between the male and female candidates and says they could be granted equal opportunity,” said Tony Mikhael, who heads Maharat’s media monitoring team.
Media groups “should support gender equality and give women the same opportunities to put themselves forward as candidates,” he said.
The country’s media outlets have been providing round-the-clock coverage of Lebanon’s elections, but Maharat says that comes with a price.
The organization has noted that outlets are charging candidates thousands of dollars for airtime and even more for interviews.
Many candidates, particularly those coming from outside Lebanon’s traditional political elite, say they cannot afford to pay for television coverage. Of the 86 women running, only 12 hail from Lebanon’s conventional political parties.
Hezbollah refused to put forward any female candidates.
“We in Hezbollah don’t have women for this job,” party Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah said in a televised speech in January.
The 86 women candidates represent a more than seven-fold increase in female representation compared with the 2009 vote, when just 12 women ran for office.