Gender equality group ABAAD stages a night ride through Beirut to mark International Women’s Day, which falls on Saturday.(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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As a consultant for the National Commission for Lebanese Women, Rita Chemaly is expertly acquainted with the complexities inherent to the fight for women's equality rights in Lebanon – but last July she faced a personal struggle.At seven-months pregnant, she was one of many expectant mothers waiting for Parliament to approve key amendments to the national labor law that would extend maternity leave to 70 days, over the legally allotted 49 . Chemaly identified the draft law to criminalize family violence and amendments to ensure equal citizenship as the most pressing, and regrettably, subject to the vagaries of personal status and sectarian politics.While the debate about domestic violence centers on religious opposition, the one raging over amending the citizenship law is a thornier and overtly political affair, as opponents argue it is incompatible with Lebanon's confessional system."This proves that the law is discriminatory in its origin and has nothing to do with the concerns about and fears of Palestinian settlement in Lebanon," she said in the study.Her seminal work found that approximately 77,400 individuals were marginalized under the citizenship law, of that number, 41,400 were born to a Lebanese mother.
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