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Lebanon has always had the image and reputaion of being the most open and liberal country in the Arab world. Lebanese women in particular are considered freer than women in other Arab countries, with much fewer social and cultural restric8ons on their movement and behaviour. Yet these relative freedoms have not translated into the abolition of gender discriminatory laws or proper political representation.

Lebanon has one of the lowest rates of women’s political engagement in the MENA region and the world. Since 1953, only 17 women have served in Lebanon’s parliament, and the maximum number of female MPs in one parliamentary term has been six (out of a total of 128 MPs in the 2005 elec8ons).

This is partly due to continuous political and legislative inertia in Lebanon, which has impeded progress on social and political reform. But the deeper problem lies in gender discrimination stemming from patriarchal structures (the family, the sect and the state) which today inhibit women’s full and equal public participation and places them at an inferior starting position in politics. Simply put, they political and electoral system and culture in Lebanon are today inhospitable to most women.


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