Fierce race in Lebanon elections expected with record number of women standing

In a country where women comprise less than 5 percent of parliament, 118 women candidates created cracks in the political glass ceiling, vying for a broader representation in the 128-seat male-dominated Lebanese public office in the general elections on May 15.

The unprecedented number of women running for legislative seats accounted for a staggering 37 percent uptick from the 86 who ran in 2018. It came a long way compared to the paltry number of 12 and 4 who ran in 2009 and 2005, marking a rising wave of interest among Lebanese women to throw their hat into the ring and run for office.

Men still make up the bulk of candidates on the 103 electoral lists – at around 84 percent – and evoked mixed reactions among voters and experts. Some see no reason to celebrate, while many onlookers were urging people to hone in on the impressive qualitative turnout rather than the numerical, which panned out despite a substantial absence of national effort and a gender quota to support women in politics.

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“Women’s presence in today’s elections is earnest, stronger, and well-balanced, regardless of the number,” the Arab Women Organization director-general, Fadia Kiwan, told Al Arabiya English. “This qualitative change and surge in women candidates that I insist we are witnessing are more crucial than the numerical change.”

Kiwan has been examining developments in the local media and its perception of women candidates and noticed an improved effort to give women more television air time compared to 2018.

A special show called 50/50 has been hosting women candidates on the local television channel LBCI, shedding light on their electoral campaigns and providing them a space to discuss and take political stances.

“The stump speech of many women candidates from various electoral lists is substantive, with strong content, and concerned with the political and social issues in a profound way,” Kiwan signaled. “It is clear that there is an effort, deliberation, and precision on these women’s part.”

Incorporated in the healthcare force and fighting for healthcare rights, including those of the marginalized populations’ members, is a staple in Nuhad Doumit’s career and activism. One of the many achievements attributed to the 64-year-old nurse is lobbying for the Order of Nurses, established in 2002.

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