SUN 21 - 4 - 2019
Date: May 30, 2018
Source: The Daily Star

Folder: Elections
Lebanon: Women’s activists renew call for Parliament representation
Madeline Edwards| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanese women’s rights leaders are renewing their demand to include a quota for female members of Parliament in the country’s next general elections after only six women gained seats in the long-awaited race earlier this month. Among those calling for the quota is National Commission for Lebanese Women president Claudine Aoun Roukoz, President Michel Aoun’s daughter. Aoun Roukoz met with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri Tuesday where she requested a share in the next government for women, including a 30 percent minimum quota for female members of Parliament, according to a statement released by Hariri’s press office.

Though a record 86 women ran as candidates in this year’s parliamentary race, only six gained spots in the 128-seat body: Paula Yacoubian, Rola Tabsh Jaroudi, Bahia Hariri, Strida Geagea, Inaya Ezzeddine and Dima Jamali. Four women served as members in the preceding, 2009-era Parliament.

“We will be waiting 100 years [for equal female participation] if we gain just two more seats each election,” Aoun Roukoz told The Daily Star Tuesday. “The quota can help.”

“I’d love to see the maximum [percentage of women],” she added, with an exasperated laugh.

Aoun Roukoz’s comments come as caretaker Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Jean Ogasapian announced Tuesday morning he had submitted a proposed amendment to the electoral law, to include the 30 percent minimum quota.

“I was upset, it was a pity,” Ogasapian told The Daily Star of his reaction to only six women earning seats this year.

The women’s minister is pinning his hopes, he says, on the proposed “temporary” quota, “to get people used to seeing women in Parliament.”

Ogasapian’s proposed amendment this week is not the first effort to enforce a minimum quota of female MPs. The National Commission for Lebanese women sharply criticized the 2017 vote law after its release last June when it failed to enforce such a quota, long a demand of women’s rights activists.

Hariri later vowed in March that the next elections in 2022 would include the gender quota, though did not detail how a potential quota rule would be enforced. For Ogasapian, the stakes remain high: the staggering lack of female MPs amounts to a “loss for Parliament.”

“It’s not an issue of the numbers, it’s an issue of potential,” he said. Without proper female representation, “Parliament is losing more than half of its capacity and potential.”

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