The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Record 111 female Parliament candidates
All-women list in Akkar running electoral race for five seats in the district
BEIRUT: As registration for the elections closed just days before International Women’s Day, Lebanon had the largest number of women register as candidates in its history.
Of the 976 candidates registered to run in the upcoming May 6 elections, a record number of 111 were women. EU Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen took to Twitter to voice her excitement saying, “We are crossing fingers for the 111 female candidates in the parliamentary elections! Break the glass ceiling!”
Of the LL7,808,000,000 ($5,153,280) in registration fees collected by the state Treasury, female candidates contributed LL896,000,000 ($591,360).
Acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel said she was “very pleased to see 111 women submitted their candidacies compared to 12 women in 2009.”
British Ambassador Hugo Shorter said: “It’s great to see a large number of women candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections. I believe this is a new national record. This is a real momentum for change. But it is only the start: I hope we will see a record number of women parliamentarians two months from now. Political leaders need to get on the right side of history by putting strong female candidates on their lists and backing them to win.”
Meanwhile, in Akkar, a list was formed exclusively of female candidates. The “Women in Akkar” list is headed by Rola Mohammad alMurad, president of the 10,452 political party – named after the square kilometers area of Lebanon.
“We decided to continue the march and support the women to run through an independent list of females from Akkar because in our view it is a matter of equality, right and justice. Because in our view, women are partners and an integral part of the national makeup,” the state-run National News Agency quoted Murad as saying.
Although Akkar has seven seats for MPs, the list will only have five candidates running – three Sunni, one Maronite and one Orthodox.
Gina Chammas, a tax consultant running for the Minority Christian seat in the Beirut I electoral district, said the tide of female candidates is a sign of “positive” change.
“I feel positive, and I feel it’s a chance for the Lebanese people to have some serious change,” she told The Daily Star Wednesday.
Though not running with any traditional political party, Chammas said she felt optimistic about her chances to win a seat in Parliament, particularly as a woman and a political newcomer, noting widespread discontent with known politicians.
But more than anything, Chammas said she felt pride in the historic rise of female candidates.
“I’m happy that women are showing that they are ready to sacrifice, that they are ready to give back to their country,” she said.