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AUB offers platform for open dialogue with Lebanon’s policy makers
Safa Jafari Safa | Office of Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org |
As part of AUB’s Strategic Partnership Initiative (SPI) to strengthen the University’s efforts to promote human wellbeing and have a positive impact on the community, AUB marked International Women’s Day with a panel discussion entitled “Women’s Rights as Public Policy.” The initiative brought AUB internal and external partners for a frank and practical exchange of views with Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, Dr. Jean Oghassabian.
“Societies in our region are in constant transformation and the perception of equal opportunities academically and professionally is increasingly becoming more prevalent,” said Dr. Hala Muhtasib, Associate Provost, who introduced the audience to AUB’s achievements in promoting women’s rights since it embraced coeducation almost 50 years before a number of the world’s most prestigious institutions. “But the status of women and their engagement in education and the work force are still affected by social perception of gender roles, politics, labor relations, family values, and other factors.”
Following a documentary video that showcased gender projects and social transformation initiatives on AUB’s campus, four panelists presented their work and findings to an audience of professionals from academic institutions, the business sector, and international, regional, and local NGOs. They shared successes, shortcomings, and views on obstacles that stand in the face of Lebanon’s full application of the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and presented a list of recommendations to Minister Oghassabian to better integrate women’s rights in public policy.
Sharing facts and figures that highlight discrepancies in constitutional laws and societal perceptions, Leila Awada, Co-founder of KAFA, an NGO which works against exploitation and violence against women, showed areas of ongoing discrimination against women. She highlighted areas in the Lebanese Civil and Personal Laws that favor men in the society and further feed and reinforce the existing exploitation of women, such as those pertaining to early marriage and child custody.
“The economic impact of women’s insufficient participation in leadership positions in particular and the labor market in general, is very high” said Rana Ghandour Salhab, DELOITTE Partner, Regional Talent and Communications, in her presentation on policy changes that promote women into executive positions. “It has become general knowledge, supported by several studies and findings, that equal gender participation in labor brings greater profitability to all shareholders, better performance, quality productivity, high sales, healthier work environment, a more successful economy, and an evident advancement and wellbeing of the society at large. It is time to move beyond having to prove this fact and to work out instead how to best achieve this true, desired equality.”
Farah Shoucair, Social Cohesion Specialist and Project Coordinator at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), spoke about Lebanon’s performance indicators with respect to the CEDAW convention, pointing to Lebanon’s reservations to specific items. She also shed light on dilemmas present within the current quota system affecting women’s political participation in Lebanon, presenting a view that is supportive of the system to even the playing field and alleviate the long history of discrimination against women in political life in Lebanon.
“People often wonder what impact public protests and movements have,” said Dr. Sara Mourad, Assistant Professor at AUB’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies, who spoke about media discourses on gender violence. “They get covered by the media and public opinion is strongly affected as a result. This way, societies begin to understand and therefore address issues that were previously kept hidden. This transformation surely influences policy.”
“It has been a pleasure to have this exchange with this caliber of professionals; this collaboration is very needed and important,” said Minister Jean Oghassabian. “Despite the progress we have made within little time since the ministry came to existence, we all remain faced with big challenges and responsibilities: Women’s rights concern us all; the preservation of these rights ensures the wellbeing of the society as a whole.”
“We organized this event to focus on the gender component of the Strategic Partnership Initiative and showcase the great work that AUB is doing vis-à-vis gender,” said Executive Director of the Strategic Partnership Initiative, Dr. Dima Jamali. “We want to engage with key players from within and outside AUB in relation to gender and the current pressing priorities for a national agenda on Women’s Rights as Public Policy. Great gender-related work has been brewing on campus for a while, as the video we have compiled shows, and we are committed to continue to make a difference in this important space, both within and outside the boundaries of this campus.”
As part of AUB’s Strategic Partnership Initiative (SPI) to strengthen the University’s efforts to promote human wellbeing and have a positive impact on the community, AUB marked International Women’s Day with a panel discussion entitled “Women’s Rights as Public Policy.”
The initiative brought AUB internal and external partners for a frank and practical exchange of views with Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, Dr. Jean Oghassabian.
Newly established Presidential award in recognition of leadership in supporting the careers of women
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