Do you recall the successful 2017 national campaign #Mesh_Basita, which sparked further debate around the lack of anti-sexual harassment protections in the MENA region? Now it's back in full force… because B3da #Mesh_Basita. To mark 2021 International Women's Day, on March 8, a new campaign with focus on the new landmark Anti-Sexual Harassment Law in Lebanon, also known as Law No. 205.
In partnership with the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB), the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW), ABAAD and SEEDS, the Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership for Women (CIBL for Women), at the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, is launching a project that aims to build an employer-focused initiative to strengthen the commitment to and implementation of the new law. This initiative includes public awareness campaigns and technical workshops and is lead by the center's director and scholar-activist Dr. Charlotte Karam.
Supported by a grant from UN Women, UNDP, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Sweden, the initiative calls on employers across Lebanon to pledge their support.
“Sexual harassment has been a long-standing issue in Lebanon, and to date, very few survivors had the structural support to be able to report. For years, numerous groups, feminist organizations, NGOs, and activists have fought tirelessly to lobby for protections in the workplace and at the national legislative level. Now, a formulation of the law has finally passed," says Dr. Karam, adding, “now that the law has passed, it's important to partner with employers to increase their awareness of their responsibilities and on key steps on how to implement it within the workplace. Efforts are needed across the country and across all sectors of the economy."
"Although the recent ratification of a landmark law criminalizing sexual harassment is an important milestone, there is still a need to advocate for introducing more progressive amendments, better law enforcement, and challenging social norms condoning sexual harassment at the workplace. This campaign in partnership with CIBL for Women and UN Women seeks to educate the public, employees and employers, to ensure that sexual harassment at the workplace doesn't go unchecked and unnoticed, and to create safe spaces for all, and women in particular," explains Celine Moyroud, UNDP Lebanon Resident Representative.
This five-month campaign will focus on two core aspects, one highlights key employer-relevant components of the law, such as clarifying how the law provides specific protections, both for the survivor and anyone who is falsely accused; and the second involves The Pledge: to showcase those employers that are committed to this law and to implementing safe workspaces, free from sexual harassment.
“The passing of anti-sexual harassment legislation by the Lebanese parliament is an important first in Lebanon. While it has gaps, it marks progress in realizing that sexual harassment must be not tolerated, and impacts women's access to public spaces and their engagement in the economy. UN Women is partnering with CIBL to mark this milestone and to educate the public, especially women, about employees' rights under the new law. Through this campaign, we would also like to encourage employers to commit to zero tolerance for sexual harassment at the workplace," notes Rachel Dore-Weeks, Head, UN Women Lebanon.