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Women’s aspiration for political participation is hard to achieve amidst the pervasive patriarchal mentality of political, family and confessional institutions

24-1-2014

An Nahar newspaper published a report on the demands of the women’s movement notably in terms of political participation and involvement in decision making processes.  The article concludes that the pervasive patriarchal mentality is a main obstacle towards women’s political participation according to tow of the pioneers of the movement, namely long-time activist Linda Matar and university profession and president of the association of Lebanese University Women Ilham al Kallab Bsat.
Matar shared her fear regarding the future of Lebanon as it struggles with a serious crisis and noted that women’s participation in the upcoming cabinet is not more important than the situation of the country.  She clarified that the situation of Lebanon now does not mean that women’s participation is not important.  However, she wondered about which women are we actually talking about and which Ministry can women take on? Matar questioned the legitimacy of the next Cabinet and noted that she did not accompany the Delegation of the Lebanese Women Council who visited the president of the Republic to demand the appointment of women in the next Cabinet.  She explained that this is because the President himself is not against women’s participation in the cabinet, but, “what can he do? Can he translate this into action?” She finally noted that the women’s movement in Lebanon is similar to the political circles which have not been able to accomplish anything.
Ilham Kallab Bsat noted for her part that those who are lobbying for women’s political participation are facing a brick wall which is the political greed and the co-option of political work by men.  She spoke further about the ways in which men in Lebanon hold on to political power with which they are obsessed in addition to being fearful of competing with women who have proven themselves in public life.  Bsat added that patriarchy in Lebanon is intimately linked to confessionalism and noted that politics is envisaged as access to power rather than the desire to contribute to public service.  She also spoke about how political, family and confessional structures concur to choose men to represent them whilst patriarchal mentalities prevail as men are appointed to take power over all political alliances.  Bsat concluded by saying that women are often blamed and accused of not wanting power and that women do not recognize other women as being more competent for a political office.  However, she adds, these divisions require a different way of working so as to pressure men to adopt a quota for women.
Source: Al-Nahar 24 January 2014

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