BEIRUT: Lebanese senior officials commemorated the International Women's Day and promised more steps to ensure gender equality in the country.
“I am for breaking down legal divides between men and women; hopefully, we can achieve this during my term,” President Michel Aoun told a delegation of 15 women from the Lebanese Women’s Council on Wednesday.
The delegation, headed by women's rights activist and lawyer Iqbal Doghan, called for full gender equality during a meeting with President Aoun at Baabda Palace.
Lebanese women cannot pass on their nationality to their siblings born from a non-Lebanese father.
Further, women suffer from unequal access to divorce, and custody and residence of children after divorce.
However, in the meeting also attended by First Lady Nadia Shami Aoun, the president stressed that he will work to grant women equal legal rights, adding that women are important in building a nation, community, and family.
The women's organization released a statement today to mark International Women’s Day, calling for a 30 percent minimum quota in the new electoral law for women in parliament, as well as civil laws that protect women’s rights.
The Lebanese Council of Women is a collection of women’s advocacy groups and non-government organizations from across the country, currently headed by Jamal Gabriel.
-Grand Serail Goes Pink-
Prime Minister Saad Hariri saluted Lebanese women on the occasion of Women’s Day in a statement carried by his office.
He promised “an exceptional role” for women in “shaping Lebanon’s future through a [parliamentarian] quota in the electoral law,” in addition to endorsing laws that ensure equality of treatment regardless of gender.
Hariri added that the Grand Serail has been lit in pink to pay tribute to the efforts to “build a different Lebanon where men and women are treated equally.”
The governmental palace was officially lit on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
-Women’s Day Gift-
Lebanon’s Cabinet Wednesday endorsed a draft law criminalizing sexual harassment.
“We dedicate this achievement to Lebanese women on International Women’s Day,” said Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Jean Ogasapian in a statement carried by his office, adding that it will be referred to the Parliament.
In December, Lawmakers abolished Article 522 of Lebanon's penal code that exempted accused rapists from prosecution if he or she marries the victim.
The move came as part of a wider approach from Lebanese state officials to brush up Lebanon’s image regarding the protection of human rights.
“We promise to realize more positive steps that will improve the situation of women in the Lebanese society,” Ogasapian said.
While Ogasapian did not elaborate on the law, Legal Agenda had said in a 2014 article that the law would imposed strict regulations on employers to prevent sexual harassment and prevent discrimination against the victims.
Moreover, the penalties will vary proportionately with the severity of the harassment and the number of people involved.