In 1996, Lebanon ratified, with reservations, an international covenant regarding womens rights known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This Convention sets out, in a comprehensive, legally binding form, internationally accepted principles on the rights of women. It further commits States Parties to take all appropriate measures, to ensure the full development and advancement of women and to guarantee them the enjoyment of the fundamental rights and freedoms to which they are entitled, on a basis of equality with men. Moreover, the Convention requires that Governments work to eliminate discrimination against women in public life as well as in private life. Indeed, according to the Convention, women must be as free as men to make choices not only in political and legal sphere, but also in such areas as marriage, the home and family life in general.
To implement womens rights, as stated in the Convention, the establishment of official and non-governmental monitoring mechanisms (national and international) helps ensure that goals are being reached and that legal rights and duties of women are recognized, understood and enforced.
The Lebanese government submitted, in 1999, its initial report regarding the progress made on the implementation of the Convention in its country, to the international monitoring treaty body known as the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW Committee). Non-governmental organizations are also encouraged to submit a parallel report in conformity with the guidelines set by the CEDAW Committee.
In this respect, the Lebanese NGO Forum, an umbrella organization of various NGOs distributed geographically throughout the Lebanese territory has set a permanent monitoring mechanism entitled Womens Rights Monitor.
This project aims at helping NGOs monitor womens rights and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Lebanon by establishing a platform for co-ordination that will, at the national and regional levels:
- Provide information about the Convention and the CEDAW Committee
- Provide guidelines in view of helping NGOs to write their report to the CEDAW Committee
- Establish a set of baseline data regarding womens rights in Lebanon in accordance with the guidelines of the CEDAW
- Elaborate a permanent report regarding womens situation in Lebanon, based on the compiled data
- Establish a bibliography on the subject of womens rights and facilitate the exchange of information and documentation
- Provide a mailing list of participating NGOs