Wake Up Call: Women’s Political Participation in the New Year

Moataz is a Programmes Manager at GPG. He provides direct support to our Lebanon project to deliver trainings on Leadership, Communication, Allyship, and Gender Equality to potential women candidates for the municipal elections and their male allies in Lebanon. As 2023 begins, he takes stock of women’s representation in Lebanon and what lessons can be drawn for the country and beyond.

As we turn the page on another year, I hope that the next one brings positive change and progress for Lebanon. And as the clock is ticking at a rapid pace to the year 2030, we can’t help but reflect on the past and look toward the future. In 2015, Lebanon endorsed the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) but the past few years have been filled with challenges and difficulties such as political turmoil, financial crisis, and a series of catastrophes that hindered its progress.

However, as we enter a new year, it is important to remember that it is never too late to work toward a better future. Time might be short, but there is still time for Lebanon to make progress toward the SDGs and build a brighter future for its citizens. Although the 17 goals are equally important, I believe that Lebanon should be especially concerned with women’s political participation, especially since Lebanon was ranked 119th on the 2022’s global gender index report.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial goals on which to focus in the effort to achieve the SDGs. Gender equality is integral to many of the other SDGs, including those related to health, education, economic growth, and reducing inequality. When women and girls are offered the same opportunities and rights as men and boys, they are more likely to be able to reach their full potential and contribute to the development of their communities and countries.

Additionally, women’s political empowerment is essential because it allows them to have a voice in the decision-making processes that shape their lives and communities. When women are represented in political decision-making processes, it helps ensure that the diverse needs and perspectives of half of the population are taken into account. This can lead to policies and laws that are more inclusive and responsive to the needs of women and their families.

Studies have shown[i][ii] that women’s empowerment and gender equality are linked to a number of positive outcomes for families, communities, companies, economies, and countries. For example, research has found that when women are able to participate in the political process and hold leadership positions, this can lead to more democratic and stable societies. This can also result in more inclusive and effective decision-making as well as better outcomes on issues such as education, health, and the environment.

In addition, increasing women’s political participation can have positive impacts on the economy. Research has shown that countries with higher levels of gender equality tend to have stronger economic growth and development. When women are able to fully participate in the economy, they can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and competitiveness.

Overall, women’s political participation is important for the happiness and well-being of a country. First, it promotes equity and inclusivity in society. Second, it can contribute to overall prosperity and development from community- to global level.

So, what be done to promote women’s empowerment? The lessons we have gathered from our work in Lebanon suggest several steps to be taken to support women and increase their political participation:

Encourage more women to run for office

One of the most effective ways to increase women’s representation in politics is to encourage more women to run for office. This can be done through campaigns and initiatives that support and train potential women candidates.

Promote gender-sensitive policies

Political parties and governments can also take steps to promote gender-sensitive policies and legislation that support women’s rights and equality. This can include measures to address issues such as violence against women, equal pay, and reproductive rights.

Encourage women’s political participation at the grassroots level

Women’s participation in politics doesn’t have to be limited to running for office. Women can also get involved in grassroots movements and advocacy groups that work to promote women’s rights and equality.

Promote media representation of women in politics

The media has a powerful influence on public opinion and can play a critical role in shaping the way women are perceived in politics. Encouraging media outlets to cover women in politics and to portray them in a positive light can help to increase their visibility and influence.

Support women’s political leadership

Finally, it is important to support and invest in women’s political leadership. This can include providing training and mentorship opportunities for women who are interested in pursuing a career in politics.

Over the past few years and following the steps outlined above, GPGF and LOST have collaborated in forming the “Winning with Women” project which aims to empower women’s local political participation and actively works towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for women to thrive. As we believe that women’s political participation and leadership are crucial for the development and success of our society, we are dedicated to doing our part to help make this a reality.

The upcoming municipal elections in May present a significant opportunity for women in Lebanon to challenge the stereotypes and barriers that have historically hindered their political participation. By actively engaging in the electoral process and supporting women candidates, we can work towards a more representative and balanced government that is better equipped to address the needs and priorities of the entire population. With the right support and encouragement, women can play a vital role in driving positive change and helping to steer the country towards a promising future.

[i] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-018-0042-8

[ii] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01330/full