The Daily Star (Lebanon)

Record 111 fe­male Par­lia­ment can­di­dates

All-women list in Akkar run­ning elec­toral race for five seats in the district

- By Joseph Haboush and Made­line Ed­wards Political Activism · Politics · Beirut · Lebanon · European Union · Christina Milian · Twitter · Belarus · United Nations · Shorter University · Akkar · Maronite Church · George Clinton

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.

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