Written by: Dolly Al-Hajj
Translated by: Lina Yahya Raydan
NNA - On March the eighth every year, the world celebrates "Woman's International Day". This day in Lebanon has a special flavor as festivals, gatherings, honorary celebrations and etc...are held to honor the Lebanese woman. How sweet! But, unfortunately, all this is not enough for this woman --who excelled at social work, education, health, scientific and other fields-has been absent from taking part in the political decision making. Why? Is not she a partner in the homeland? Are not her responsibilities as equal as those of the man? Doesn't she have the right to take part in the confrontations and management decisions?
Having proven her competency on all levels, why is the Lebanese woman's occupation to positions at the legislative authority still shy, her presence at the national authorities still negligible and at the executive authority totally absent?
The answer is simple. There is a decision to marginalize woman on the psychological level rather than in texts. This marginalization, which might not be intended, stemmed out from customs, traditions, education and historical role distribution for both man and woman.
We would not be unfair to woman in general and forget her long struggle and confrontation to reach her present situation; however, this does not justify her failure to pursue and strengthen that struggle to gain her political rights and seek to actually participate in power. She should not claim, as in the old times, that she is hindered by lots of social and family pressures as such pressures have disappeared nowadays in light of the development of living means. Thus, the Lebanese woman must crystallize her persistence to achieve her legitimate targets and be fully prepared to step over the threshold of decision making.
In this context, the "National News Agency" had a talk with the only minister at the Lebanese government, the Minister of the Displaced Alice Shabtini who confirmed that she "does not support the woman quota; but, sadly, this is the only way for the woman to be in the decision-making position," noting that even the European countries adopted the "quota system" to allow woman to gain her political rights and take part in parliamentary and ministerial authorities.
The Minister underscored the need to adopt such a quota for a certain period so as to prepare the public and the social atmosphere to accept the presence of the woman in such positions.
Shabtini assured the necessity to have women ministers in the government to elevate an atmosphere of decency and good dialogue as well as to address the pending issues.
The minister advised all the Lebanese women "to break the barriers, remove the obstacles and support each other (...) without any hesitation or fear to march on the course to policy and decision making."
Shbtini did not rule out "the importance of the money factor in the parliamentary elections," stressing that the lack of funding for electoral campaigns prevents women from presenting their candidacy.
She pointed out that the phenomenon of using money has spread in Lebanon with Syria's entry to the country and this approach is, unfortunately, still adopted during parliamentary elections.
Shabtini stressed the necessity of being honest and transparent in practicing political work, hoping votes won't be bought at any elections.
Separately, the social activist Marcelle Kallassi Salameh said that the woman has the right to take part in the political decision making, pointing out that the Lebanese woman is an added value.
Salameh wondered about the reasons that held the Lebanese woman back from engaging in the political work, calling upon them to "fight political battles with wisdom and knowledge of staying away from narrow political services to penetrate the political legacy and impose a radical change from base to top."