First Lady Wafaa Sleiman launched a guide book about the situation of women in Lebanon, during a celebration at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut on Saturday.
Sleiman attended the gathering upon the invitation of the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which collaborated to produce the publication.
She described the guide as a book revealing the reality of women in various fields and sectors, adding that the facts presented in the publication were fundamental for any policy plan or activity aiming at reinforcing women.
“With this guide, public institutions, researchers and civil society organizations will be able to work toward a better monitoring of women's reality and will be able to take the correct decisions in empowering women and eliminating all types of discrimination against them,” she said.
The first lady then stressed the importance of cooperation between governmental institutions and nongovernmental organizations in order to “make women full partners in rights and obligations.”
“The new reality exposed in the guidebook demands a social and cultural acceptance of gender equality,” Sleiman added, noting that no real change could be achieved without amending discriminating laws and hoping the chains binding women would one day be broken.
The guide book includes facts and descriptions of the lives of Lebanese women today, based on surveys and studies conducted by a number of scientists and experts. It is the fruit of three years of cooperation between the NCLW and UNIFEM.
NCLW secretary Fadi Karam explained that the guide included indicators for observing the situation of women today, and described it as “a mechanism of communication between all the people concerned with women affairs inside and outside Lebanon.”
UNIFEM coordinator in Syria Aref al-Sheikh considered the guidebook to be a database for women, families, societies and researchers concerned with sustainable development.
He emphasized the demographic characteristics exposed in the book, as well as the social, political, health, education and employment conditions of women.
“The aim is to instigate a constructive debate in order to reach and implement policies seeking equality and justice,” Sheikh added.
The guidebook launching ceremony was attended by an array of local and international social and political figures, including Sleiman, NCLW vice-presidents Randa Berri and Hoda Siniora, Minister of State Mona Ofeish, MP Gilberte Zouein, former Minister of Agriculture Wafaa Hamza, head of the Press Federation Mohammad Baalbaki and Oman's Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad bin Khalil Bin Saleh al-Jazmi.
Hamza praised the newly released guide and said it revealed key aspects in the lives of the Lebanese, both men and women. “It is a source for forming policies and strategies that can only be based on credible information,” she added.
Hamza then congratulated all women living in rural areas for the occasion of International Rural Women Day, held on October 15. She expressed hope that the book would help decision makers develop rural areas and raise awareness about women's issues.
The guidebook was described by specialist Antoine Msarra as being the first of its kind in the methodology adopted.