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Women in uniform: Number is rising but challenge persists

4-7-2019

In its issue of today, An Nahar newspaper devoted a feature on the participation of women in the Lebanese Army. It said that notwithstanding the growing number of women joining military ranks since the appointment of the new Army Commander, Joseph Aoun in March 2017, there remains the challenge of sustaining these gains. At the end of the civil war in 1990, An Nahar wrote, the Lebanese government asked Lebanese women to volunteer as soldiers in the Military Establishment, including the military police and the military school. Yet, the number of women soldiers remained relatively low compared to the actual number of male soldiers in service, the newspaper said. Until the year 2017, women only numbered 1000 out of the total of 70,000 soldiers. During the past two years, the participation rate of women in the Army rose considerably reaching 3,000 women in 2018, including 3 colonels and 17 brigadier generals, An Nahar report said. Citing military sources, An Nahar anticipated a rise in the number to 4,000 women soldiers by March 2019. On the other hand, the size and scope of the role of women in the Army remains subject to the defense minister’s decisions, rather than to a law or decree released by the parliament or the cabinet. Currently, An Nahar said, the decisions enacted three decades ago can be revoked by any minister in the future without the approval of the council of ministers. In conclusion, the report demanded that the Legislature and the cabinet ratify laws to the end of endorsing the participation of women in the Army, and hence, supporting the gains made. (An Nahar, July 4, 2019)

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