Written by: Timothy Rodriquez
Lebanon, already with a history of conflict and civil war, has, recent years, seen a resurgence of militarism with the ongoing war in Syria spilling into its borders as Islamist rebels attack the Lebanese Army in Arsal. Due to this resurgence, European governments are now providing Lebanon with military aid and money to stop rebels' advance deeper into Lebanese territory.
WILPF has a section in Lebanon, and, since early 2012, has also worked with the ABAAD - Resource Center for Gender Equality in Lebanon to lead the national consultation process on Women, Peace and Security, and to identify and map women's issues and concerns that relate to the policy of UNSCR 1325.
In Lebanon, women are still far from acting as true partners in decision-making processes and in political life due to the entrenched patriarchal norms and practices combined with the deep-rooted sectarian system. Women's social, economic and legal status is still weak, with prevailing injustice, marginalization, and prejudice.
Despite these huge challenges, the recent developments and spillover of Syrians displaced into Lebanon has the potential to serve as a window of opportunity to enhance women's roles in society in times of conflict. One of the most recent publications of ABAAD has shed a light on the changes in gender roles of Syrian women due to displacement. It found that many women now have more active roles in decision-making within their households. Moreover, it has been observed that many INGOs have been keener to incorporate gender sensitive initiative, in additions to ones that aim at enhancing women's participation in decision-making.
Faced with this mounting instability, WILPF's work supporting grassroots activism against militarism becomes even more important. WILPF's current work with our Lebanese partners include more national consultation, which will focus on discussing existing specific challenges and opportunities facing women's participation in reform processes and on-going political transformations; as well as targeted visits to relevant stakeholders. These efforts will ultimately feed into a process towards a Lebanese draft National Action Plan (NAP) that will be the first effort in the Lebanese context aiming to incorporate the issues addressed in UN resolution 1325 within the national agenda; ultimately aiming at having these standards turned into policies that support women's right and participation.