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French Version

Women need better representation in politics

Laws discriminate against females
Conference promotes report on status of women, developments in applying

Lebanese women are still under-represented in political life and Lebanese laws discriminate against them, said participants in a Thursday news conference on Lebanese women's status.

Representatives from the UN's Population Fund (UNFPA), the Research and Training Institute for Development Issues (RTIDI), and the Civil Association to Follow-up Women's Issues (CAFWI), attended the conference held at the Lebanese Press Syndicate (LPS).

The conference promoted the findings of a nearly-finished report on the status of Lebanese women and the latest developments in the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted in 1995.

The treaty demanded that signatory countries and non-governmental organizations send a report on the status of women in those countries every four years.

RTIDI and CAFWI prepared the report for the second time in the past eight years to discuss the latest developments on women's status.

UNFPA representative Fahmiya Sharafeddine said that the report was prepared to coincide with the new government's formation, which for the first time included two women.

"That is why one would see we have stressed that women should be given positions within the executive authority - the government," she said.

However "this is not enough, as the new female ministers were assigned to their posts at the last minute," she said.

Sharafeddine said that the lack of male ministers was behind the assigning of Leila Solh and Wafaa Hamza.

"This means that they weren't assigned due to a political conviction, but rather due to a political necessity," Sharafeddine said.

President of the LPS, Mohammed Baalbaki, who welcomed the mostly female attendants, said he wishes "that someday men would participate in such important conferences."

"Eliminating any form of discrimination is an important issue which doesn't relate to women alone and should be of an interest of men as well," he said.

However, according to Baalbaki, "it is not enough to attend international conventions and make void promises. There has to be an official follow-up to such conferences and the treaties signed afterward," he said.

Baalbaki also sent his regards to the new government, which "assigned two female ministers for the first time in the Lebanese political history."

According to him, "this step is unique and important in the matter of women's rights."

Yet, "the two lady ministers should be given proper ministerial portfolios that suite their capabilities and education," said Baalbaki.

RTIDI representative and CAFWI President Lina Abou Habib said during the conference that despite some changes in the Lebanese political life, women "are still under represented and discriminated against in Lebanese laws."

According to Habib, "Lebanon should adopt the Moroccan step of reform which amended the civil status laws in favor of women."

She also said Moroccan legislative bodies "are studying" their nationality law which allows women to pass the Moroccan nationality to their children. "This should happen in Lebanon as well," she said.

Beirut,11 08 2004
Leila Hatoum
The Daily Star
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