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Hayat Arslan; an activist for women's economic, social and political rights


The Daily Star newspaper published today an interview with Hayat Arslan, as part of its series of weekly articles interviewing pioneer Lebanese women from various sectors. Activist Hayat Arslan, talked about her family’s background and her husband’s, Emir Faysal Arslan, support which enabled her to get a degree in political science from the American University of Beirut when she was already a mother of two.
Arslan also talked about her “economically comfortable” background and how that hindered her from grasping the reality of the people, and especially the women, for a while. But once she became familiar with those obstacles preventing women from attaining their full potential, she decided to act, and founded in 1983 the Society of Lebanon the Giver, an association focusing on education and social welfare. The social organisation started its first project with the building of a school in the remote southern town of Hasbaya to cater to the area’s educational needs and later went on to initiate a women’s economic empowerment program. Arslan is also the founder of a training school for women in Aley, the Committee for Women Political Empowerment, and the Civil Society Dialogue Table.
Arslan indicated that the social status of women remains low even amongst educated women who still have struggle to claim their rights. Women's subordinate position pushed Arslan to lobby for the women quota system, a law that was drafted at a time when Prime Minister Sa3ed Hariri was in power and that aims at closing the gender gap in politics.
Although, Arslan admits that there has not been enough progress in terms of women’s rights in Lebanon, she pointed out that things are moving forward, adding that: “first, and most importantly, we are have succeeded in rooting the idea that there is a civil society ready to claim its rights by using words and not violent actions”. At the end, Arslan pointed out that there will be difficulties in the future, but these should neither block nor hinder young women, adding “nothing will make us move backward, nothing will shut us up ... nobody is better than us”.
Source: The Daily Star 2 June 2014

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