The Arab Institute for Women

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Closing Event: “Supporting Political Participation of Targeted Women in Lebanon”

The AiW in collaboration with the Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) hosted a panel discussion titled “Gendering Political participation”, which served as a closing event for the project on “Supporting Political Participation of Targeted Women in Lebanon.” The project encompassed a three-month training, funded by the Finnish Embassy that aimed to equip women with the necessary skills to run for parliamentary or municipal elections.  

The panel of speakers included Dr. Josephine Zgheib, former candidate for the 2022 parliamentary elections and member of the municipal council of Kfardebian in Lebanon since 2010, Dr. Halimeh Kaakour, recently elected member of Parliament and Professor of International Public Law, Mr. Aly Sleem, Executive Director of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections-LADE, Ms. Laury Haytayan, General Coordinator of the Taqaddom Party, and Ms. Verena El Amil, former candidate for the 2022 parliamentary elections. Ms. Diana Moukalled, Co-founder of Daraj Media, moderated the panel discussion.

Ms. Myriam Sfeir, Director of the AiW, ushered the event with an opening word, after which the President of LAU, Dr. Michel Mawad, delivered a welcoming speech. Then, H.E. Fernandez, Ambassador of Finland to Lebanon, Jordan, Chargée d´affaires in Syria, highlighted the importance of working on such collaboration programs and explained the Finnish experience in mainstreaming gender equality in the public and private spheres.

The panelists discussed, from a gender perspective, their political experiences and the major opportunities and challenges for women and reformist candidates. Dr. Halimeh Kaakour explained her experience as an independent woman candidate, the major obstacles, and the lessons learned. Ms. Verena El Amil then discussed the positive and negative aspects of running for elections as the youngest candidate amid a sometimes discouraging and challenging environment. After that, Dr. Josephine Zgheib talked about her municipal experience and the momentum she created for a new strategy of fact-based work in the municipal council. Ms. Laury Haytayan then took the stage to shed light on the importance of redefining the concept of “political party” in Lebanon to incorporate a rather positive than negative connotation of the term. Finally, Mr. Aly Sleem presented LADE’s report on the 2022 parliamentary elections which documented the major violations committed on the election’s day. 

The panel discussion concluded with a short Q&A session, followed by a closing word by Ms. Moukalled.