BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Woman breaks taboos, announces candidacy

Lawyer Nadine Moussa speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Nadine Moussa, Lebanon’s first female candidate for the presidency, insists that Lebanon needs a “new social contract,” with women holding half of all parliamentary and governmental posts.

“I know what Lebanese women are capable of, and I know how much they can contribute,” Moussa told The Daily Star.

Moussa, a lawyer who has worked to promote women’s rights for over a decade, is the first female to officially run for president of Lebanon.

While Moussa has no experience in office, she had filed to run for Parliament in 2013 as an independent candidate in the Metn, before the election was delayed. Moussa does have experience in civil activism, as an active member of the Take Back Parliament Campaign, a grass-roots movement aimed at democratic secular nonsectarian government.

The Bikfaya native and mother of two says that her candidacy sends an important message.

“I’m breaking many taboos,” she said. “It’s time they be broken. We’re not in the Middle Ages anymore.”

Gender parity, however, is just part of Moussa’s presidential platform. An outspoken critic of sectarianism and corruption, Moussa says she hopes to create a “new social contract” that will benefit all Lebanese equally.

Moussa, believes Lebanon needs a new political order, creating a more inclusive government and a more united society.

She called for a national dialogue that would bring together politicians, representatives from civil society, unions, young people and financial leaders to find an alternative to the confessional system which, she says, has failed the Lebanese people.

“Where are we today? The Civil War feels like it could come back at any time,” she told a group of journalists and supporters Tuesday.

“Seventy years after independence, most of Lebanon is sectarian. It was never Lebanese,” she said. “We need a civil system, not a sectarian system.”

Aside from denouncing the confessional system, Moussa severely castigated what she called a “corrupt” political class.

The comment may well have been a thinly veiled dig at her fellow candidates Henry Helou and Robert Ghanem, who hail from political dynasties, and Samir Geagea, a perennial fixture of the Lebanese political scene.

“Corruption has become endemic,” she told The Daily Star. “Corruption among the political class is very prevalent.”

“It is estimated that corruption costs the Lebanese state between $12 billion and $17 billion annually. Think what we could do with these funds to improve people’s lives.”

Moussa acknowledged that her chances of winning the election appeared slim, but said her candidacy was still important.

“Running the country is not necessarily my ambition,” she said. “My main goal was to put forth a new vision.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 23, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

Nadine Moussa, Lebanon's first female candidate for the presidency, insists that Lebanon needs a "new social contract," with women holding half of all parliamentary and governmental posts.

Moussa, a lawyer who has worked to promote women's rights for over a decade, is the first female to officially run for president of Lebanon.

An outspoken critic of sectarianism and corruption, Moussa says she hopes to create a "new social contract" that will benefit all Lebanese equally.

Moussa, believes Lebanon needs a new political order, creating a more inclusive government and a more united society.

Aside from denouncing the confessional system, Moussa severely castigated what she called a "corrupt" political class.


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