The Arab Institute for Women

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Webinar: Parental Leave in Focus

The Arab Institute for Women (AiW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) and the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) organized a webinar on: “Parental Leave in Focus”. This webinar is part of the project “Equality for Everyone: Gender Reform from Grassroots to Government” funded by the United States Middle East Partnership Initiative (U.S.-MEPI).

Myriam Sfeir, the AiW director was the moderator, who opened the webinar and welcomed the audience. Ms. Claudine Aoun, president of the NCLW, gave the welcome speech, during which she focused on highlighting how the current and preceding situation in Lebanon, has significantly affected women in a variety of spheres, leading to further inequality between men and women in the Lebanese society. She believes that certain laws that put women at a disadvantage need to be changed.

In his turn, LAU’s President, Dr. Michel Mawad, reaffirmed how LAU has always been a supporter of gender issues by highlighting the fact that LAU was first established as a school for girls. He further affirmed that since the establishment of the AiW in 1973, LAU has been prolific in the quest of advocating for women’s rights – not just in Lebanon, but also in the region. He concluded his word by declaring that LAU will soon become the first academic institution of higher education to improve its parental leave policies within the context of efforts conducted by LAU under the umbrella of the “Equality for Everyone: Gender Reform from Grassroots to Government” project.

Mr. Andrew Doehler, the economic officer and MEPI coordinator at the US Embassy in Beirut highlighted that the U.S. State Department under MEPI invested in LAU for this “Equality for Everyone: Gender Reform from Grassroots to Government” project because the United States is committed to ensuring that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central tenets of the U.S.’ foreign policy and national security. They further believe that promoting women’s participation and leadership in business and politics throughout the Middle East will have ripple effects on peace and stability efforts across the region. He also mentioned that the draft law for parental leave adjustments, if passed, will provide women with a sense of security in their jobs, and ensure women have a level playing field at work.

Ms. Zeina Helou, an independent researcher and the expert who produced the policy paper, within the context of this project, provided a summary of the produced policy paper and highlighted the significant impact the economic situation and COVID-19 had on women. She also went through some aspects that characterize the Lebanese system concerning the labor law that applies to both men and women.

Me. Maya Zeghrini presented the draft law that was prepared through a joint effort between the AiW and the NCLW for the purpose of amending and adding articles in the already existing labor law to ensure that parental leave policies are improved on a nation-wide level.

The final word was given by Ms. Jumanah Zabaneh, the UN Women Lebanon Program Coordinator on Women, Peace and Security, who discussed how the project “Men and Women for Gender Equality” engages men in the advocacy for women’s rights.

For more info on the event, please check this press release.