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 created on: Friday, October 25th, 2013

global, Lebanon


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English, Arabic

I am Leila Younes, born and raised in Lebanon. I am a social entrepreneur and social worker. I believe each one of us has a responsibility to make the world a happytolerant home. I am now launching my own business to empower women economically and psychologically through cooking.

My life and my encounter with gender inequality:

The issue of gender inequality has been a rising theme in the human rights domain in Lebanon throughout recent years. Some progress has been achieved in the field, yet much more should be done. A recent study by the UNDP revealed a distorted picture of equality where women outpaced men in education throughout different levels (primary, secondary and universities). However, this doesn’t project on the labor force nor political engagement where the number of women involved remains very low. Discrimination is not only evident in the labor/education sector, for the Lebanese law doesn’t protect women from domestic violence nor rape. Rape is considered a criminal offence in Lebanon, with a minimum sentence of five years, but a rapist is set free if he agrees to marry the victim even without her consent. Moreover, spousal rape which is common in Lebanon is not even recognized by law. Another major projection of the discrimination against women is that Lebanese women are denied the right to pass their nationality onto their children. NGOs and activists have initiated many schemes to develop the current situation, however lots of support and progress is still needed.

My vision of the future:

In the midst of all the great work done to improve the status of women in Lebanon, the struggle is missing a male figure. To reach effective results we need the support of men as partners and advocates. Gender equality benefits the whole society so we should all be vital elements in this movement to be able to bring it to fruition.

At the same time, we should “educate” Lebanese women to reevaluate the way they perceive themselves as beings. A women is not a sexual object nor a mere beautiful piece of art who needs to fit into the recent commercial standards of beauty. Destroying extreme standards of beauty that are inspired by the commercial industries will limit the huge amount of plastic surgeries done in Lebanon and will help women in re-identifying themselves as essential parts of society rather than fulfilling the size 0, tiny nose, colored eyes, straight hair standards set by the media and patriarchal society. Women should be empowered to challenge inequality in the social, cultural and religious contexts. However, without reconsidering the way women perceive themselvesin society, a real change is not possible.