DAWRIC action plan aims to increase women’s political and economic participation

Despite increasing efforts to improve gender balance in society, Lebanon’s global ranking in the Global Gender Gap report, at 135 out of 142 countries, points to more progress required. In order to tackle this issue, the EU-funded Direct Action for Women: Reform, Inclusion and Confidence (DAWRIC) project has proposed an action plan to promote gender equality at the national and local level and build the capacities of women to become actors of change.

To date, political participation at the municipal level constitutes the most direct channel to increase participation of women in public life. DAWRIC’s proposed action seeks to work towards building on established success stories with the aim of reinforcing this increase in women’s participation at the local level and creating a multiplier effect. “We believe that social justice requires a gender justice area in its vision and ongoing work, where activists build the will and a sense of urgency, share the experiences of model organisations and campaigns, provide gender education and training, and promote women’s leadership and business skills,” explained Nayla el Khoury, DAWRIC project manager.
In January 2017, Regional Introductory Workshops were held by the DAWRIC project team across Lebanon to introduce the project scope to communities in North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Bekaa and Beirut/Mount Lebanon and to recruit participating municipalities. After 21 municipalities fulfilled participation criteria, the project team conducted field trips to meet with their respective heads of municipality, clarify the project objectives and work to select NGOs and CBOs to act as municipality partners for the project. From April to June 2017, a series of focus group meetings took place in the presence of the municipalities and potential NGOs and CBOs, to discuss the DAWRIC project action plan and upcoming activities.

Positive feedback was received from participating municipalities. Hened Haddad, representing Chekka municipality, said that the training had encouraged her to create a committee of women composed of Chekka municipality members and civil society whose aim would be to see what could be done for women in Chekka. “DAWRIC gave me the confidence,” she said. Nina Roustom, representing Mejdleya municipality, also reported that a committee would be formed and that more training sessions would be useful. She said the experience had been an awakening and that “those who take part in those session are indeed ready for change”.

Following this, a total of 200 participants from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds, around 75% of whom were women, attended four-day Active Citizenship workshops that took place in the North, South, Bekaa and Mount Lebanon. The participants improved their understanding of the concepts related to 1) Active citizenship; 2) Dialogue and communication; 3) Local, national and global issues; 4) Design and implementation of social action projects (SAPs); 5) Accepting cultural differences; 6) General concept and definition of gender and sex.

DAWRIC project co-beneficiary Committee for the Follow-Up on Women Issues (CFUWI) delegated “Change Makers” of both genders from all targeted geographical areas to attend these workshops and to be in charge of cascading the takeaways from these gender sensitization sessions to a targeted 4,500 community members. The “Change Makers” network consists of gender activists between 18 and 25 years old with knowledge of gender equality and gender mainstreaming gained from previous CFUWI projects and who are considered as agents of change in their communities, advocating and raising awareness of women issues.

In addition to these workshops, a three-day training on “Effective Communication with the Media” organized by Maharat Foundation was held for 25 representatives from Office of the Minister of Women Affairs (OMSWA), Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) and the DAWRIC-supported national coalition “Women for Politics”. This coalition was created under the EU-funded "Gender Equity and Empowerment of Women” (GEEWL) project which concluded in February 2016. DAWRIC’s support focuses on the priorities identified in the end of project recommendations, including strengthening the capacity of CSO members of the coalition, and providing them with the necessary principles, tips and tools to improve their skills to effectively communicate with the media.