Under the patronage of the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut), “SMART Centre” organized a debate on “Women’s Quota in Lebanon”, in partnership with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA). The event was attended by Abir Chebaro, representing the Minister of Women’s Affairs Jean Ogassapian and who is Lebanese Prime Minister’s Advisor, in addition to women who previously participated in the parliamentary and municipal elections in Lebanon, candidates for the upcoming elections, as well as representatives of women’s associations, civil society organizations, and media outlets.
The debate coincided with the launch of the Debate Club Association, and aimed at promoting consensus and exchanging ideas among people. Two teams at the debate discussed the following motion: “The council ensures a 30 per cent quota for women’s representation in parliamentary seats in the Lebanese electoral law.”
UNIC Beirut Director Margo Helou said that activating the dialogue on women’s participation in decision-making at the political level is very crucial and vital since it helps in narrowing the gaps between men and women at all levels. “The UN is working on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls under the Global Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the Organization,” she added. Helou also pointed out that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been backing women since he took office when he appointed three women in senior leadership positions.
Randa Yassir, SMART Centre’s Executive Director, said for her part, that since 2012 the Centre began with the implementation of a training project on general debates. The project aims at promoting the concept of citizenship, democracy and community building in Lebanon and the Middle East, and it targets university students, candidates for municipal elections and campaigns’ managers. Yassir announced the signing of a partnership with IDEA, as well as the launch of a series of activities involving youth and women to be part of the change, contribute in the SDGs implementation, and ensure effective dialogue.
Malek Msahhel, Deputy Director of IDEA Middle East and North Africa, announced the launch of a Debate Incubator in Lebanon for the debate clubs associations in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. The incubator aims at providing support and coordinating debate initiatives; integrating debate skills as tools for civilized expression; and pushing for social change among youth. Msahhel revealed the intention of IDEA to inaugurate an office for the Middle East in Lebanon. He also said that IDEA and “SMART Centre” will be jointly organizing trainings in Lebanon on debate and advocacy.