American University of Beirut


Lebanese Women in Politics

​​​​​​​​Women activists and scholars came together recently to discuss why so few women are active in Arab politics. They quickly concluded that the constraint was not the lack of able women candidates for office – but rather a tangled web of legal, social, financial, and political barriers in deeply patriarchal societies that discriminated against women entering the public political sphere. Barriers to women in Arab politics were also seen to be part of wider discriminations and inequities in other fields of Arab public life, though possible breakthroughs to overcome some of these were also discussed -- including, most notably for women in politics, quota systems.

Even when societies offered “empowerment and training” programs to help women enter and win parliamentary elections, according to AUB Political Science Assistant Professor Dr Carmen Geha, the training usually fails because it is culturally or politically inappropriate in the Arab world’s male-dominated power structures. Based on her research on why so few Lebanese women enter parliament  -- just 3% of the elected parliament is female, compared to over 20% averages in North African states like Libya and Morocco – Dr. Geha’s research identified three main constraints for this: totally male-led political parties anchored in sectarianism, the legal system that disadvantages women in many personal status fields that impact their public roles, and the n​ature of the electoral system that favors men in such a patriarchal society. 

Read the full text summary of the discussion here. Watch the entire discussion here.

Video Highlights of the Discussion


  • ​Carmen Geha, Assistant Professor of Political Science at AUB

  • Bozena Welbourne, Professor of Government at Smith College

  • Charlotte Karam, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Associate Dean of Programs at the Olayan School of Business at AUB

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