Executive summary of 2nd report / September 2000
Lebanon is one of the few Arab countries that ratified, with reservations, on July 24th 1996 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, known as CEDAW.
Since then, Lebanon is bound and committed to eliminate all forms of discrimination against Lebanese women. Unfortunately, reality still shows that the process of amending the Lebanese legislation to bring it into conformity with the principles of CEDAW is still far from being completed. This is due to the great amount of violations of women’s rights in both the law and the culture. The latter needs to change in order to meet the Convention's obligations. It is probably the civil war that lasted more than fifteen years and the recurrent Israeli aggressions that led to many deep changes in the social, economic and political structure of the Lebanese society and have therefore impacted on the advancement of Lebanese women in all fields. Moreover, it led to a wider gap in the Lebanese society in all areas, and the outcome has been a negative impact on all development programmes and activities related to women.
To implement women's rights, as stated in the Convention, the establishment of official and non-governmental monitoring mechanisms is essential. Furthermore, the absence of governmental infrastructures catering to women's needs and rights, assigns to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) a major role in the implementation of the Convention. This sector has played a major role in the incitement to ratify the CEDAW Convention and the follow up of its enforcement in Lebanon. Moreover, NGOs have made voluntary, continuous and hard efforts to abolish discrimination against women. By collecting data and developing indicators on women's rights and reviewing national laws, NGOs help identify the rights violated and the steps that should be taken to ensure the full implementation of the CEDAW Convention. Thus, the input of NGOs becomes essential in assessing the state of women's rights in Lebanon.
In this perspective, the Lebanese NGO Forum has set up a permanent monitoring mechanism entitled "Women's Rights Monitor Project"; a network of specialised NGOs with the purpose of monitoring women's rights and the application of CEDAW in Lebanon. This network aims at establishing, through the Internet, a set of baseline data and elaborating a permanent reporting mechanism. This mechanism consists mainly of producing an online, regularly updated, report on the latest developments and setbacks concerning the state of women in the country.
2- Participating NGOs
The following NGOs have already joined the Women's Rights Monitor network and contributed reports, books, studies, expertise and findings:
The Lebanese Union for Child Welfare; The Lebanese Women's Council; The Working Women League in Lebanon; The Lebanese council to Resist Violence Against Women; The Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering; The Non-Governmental National Committee for the Follow Up of Women's Issues Post Beijing; OPAC; The Lebanese Family Planing Association; Caritas; Dar El Sadaka; René Moawad Foundation; Imam Al Sadr Foundation.
These institutions have a very important role in making the Convention an instrument of women's empowerment. They also provide protection, rehabilitation and assistance to Lebanese women. These NGOs have chosen to collaborate with one another in preparing reports. Thus, their participation in the reporting process of the "Women's Rights Monitor Project", illustrates the existence of a concerted voice on the subject of women's rights in Lebanon.
This online report provides extensive information on women's rights and the implementation of CEDAW in Lebanon. While it follows the general guidelines of reporting as set by the CEDAW committee, emphasis is essentially on specific matters that concern Lebanese women. In order to make the case for both the necessity and the possibility for change, documentation and evidence are gathered to illustrate each issue. The information available in the report is based on data and statistics communicated by participating NGOs as well as legal cases, news clippings, academic research, provisions of national and local laws and regulations.
Furthermore, by using an interactive computer programme especially designed for the Women's Rights Monitor Project, participating NGOs are able to access a centralized database, via the internet, and enter any relevant information regarding women in Lebanon. All participating NGOs were required to attend special training sessions on the use of this programme.
4- Structure and Content
The online report includes a preface that gives a brief introduction on Human Rights and the CEDAW Convention in Lebanon, and a table of contents that appears as follows:
II- Women in public life (politics & economics) - articles 7,8,9,13,15
VII- Women in marriage and family laws - article 16
VIII- Women and violence - articles 6,16
By clicking on the titles, readers will be able to access the content of a specific section. Each title may include many sub-titles. The content of each title varies in length depending on the available information. A listing of sources used is provided at the end of the report under the title "References".
As we mentioned above the content of this report is divided according to the general guidelines of reporting set by the UN CEDAW committee. The report is divided into two main parts related to the CEDAW Convention and another third general part related to different subjects on Lebanese women.
Part one is that of the preamble (section I). It provides some background information about Lebanon: its constitution, its general political structure, review of the legal framework concerning the protection of human rights and specifically woman's rights; in addition to a description of efforts done to implement the CEDAW Convention on the national and official levels. It also highlights the major obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Convention by analyzing the reservations in light of the current law. In addition, this section includes an overview on the achievements and amendments carried out before and after Lebanon’s ratification to CEDAW.
Part two (sections II to IX) provides specific information in relation to each provision of the Convention. The approach used in this part is to identify the issues, discuss and prioritize them, and then consider which articles of the convention apply. The titles include a description of the legislation regarding each issue and a review to what extent legal provisions in Lebanon are in conformity or in violation with the provisions of the Convention.
Part three (sections X to XII) includes general information about Lebanese women. For example: the Lebanese women in the South and in Beijing +5 and the world march of women.
The Women's Rights Monitor Project has successfully mobilized local NGOs and helped strengthen their capacity through training and technical back up. By making this report available to the public through the Internet and updating the information every three months, it becomes the first permanent monitoring system on women's rights in Lebanon and the Middle East.