Economic discrimination against women jeopardises women’s independence and violates many of their basic economic and social rights. In Lebanon, despite the adoption of constitutional guarantees and U.N. treaties pertaining to human rights, women have not been granted equal citizenship. Current issues identified by Lebanese women’s rights organizations include amending the nationality law to allow women to pass their nationality on to their spouses and children, passing comprehensive legislation protecting women against domestic violence, and increasing women’s participation in the political and public spheres.
While women’s rights Civil Society Organizations (CSO)s in Lebanon provide a large number of services and campaigns on a variety of issues, there is at the same time a lack of coordination among efforts. Women’s CSOs have historically shown reluctance to collaborate, network, and coordinate to advance women’s rights more effectively due to differing, or even opposing, approaches. The media in Lebanon has also underreported women’s rights issues and campaigns. By negatively stereotyping women, the media has reinforced traditional gender norms.
To address these issues ALEF in collaboration with Search for Common Ground, (an international non-profit organization that works in the field of conflict transformation) implemented a Middle East Partnership Initiative (a program under the of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affair’s Office of Assistance Coordination which offers assistance, training, and support to groups and individuals striving to create positive change in the society.) funded project entitled “Everyone Gains: Promoting Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment in Lebanon”.
The project’s approach includes a combination of non-adversarial advocacy techniques and relationship-building that intend to create a national consensus on some of the key issues preventing women’s economic empowerment. The women’s rights CSOs that were invited to participate in the project worked socio-economic women’s rights and women’s participation in national decision-making. It also involved key societal stakeholders: Lebanese news broadcasting companies, religious leaders, and Lebanese men in general, in order to broaden the support base for national conversation and legislative reforms.
“Everyone Gains” aims at strengthening the capacity of Lebanese women’s rights CSOs so they can successfully advocate for better rights and to engage in collaborative and non-adversarial campaigning for legislative reforms. Thus, improving their ability to reduce economic constraints for women in the media, nationally and domestically.
- To ensure the objectives of the project were met, a series of activities were conducted including:Workshops for Lebanese women’s rights CSOs on conflict resolution, non-adversarial advocacy and media engagement skills
- Workshops for journalists on covering women’s rights issues and campaigns in Lebanon
- Workshops and discussions with religious leaders and key male community stakeholders in Lebanon a series of meetings with women committees from political parties and members of the National Social Security fund
- An awareness campaign highlighting the discriminations against women in the National Social Security law
- The production of a how-to-guide whose aim is to ensure that female workers and employees are informed about their rights and obligations related to the National Social Security law
- A Code of Conduct containing recommendations on how to report on women’s issues to the media in Lebanon, according to international and Lebanese standards.
Throughout the project it was clear that participating CSOs were able to shift their attitude from adversarial to collaborative and agree on a common campaign for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).The public and key religious and media stakeholders are now, more aware about the discrimination against women in the National Social Security law (NSSL).
The subject chosen for the campaign, which was the amendment of the NSSL led to a collaboration among several NGOs that extended past the timeline of the project.