As part of his ongoing engagement for greater representation of women in all walks of life, British Ambassador Hugo Shorter met a group of women municipality members to hear about their successes representing their community in local government. The municipal members from Tyre, Arsal, Chouf and Chiyah shared their experiences of working to improve public services in their area and deliver benefits to the community. Shorter asked the women about their experiences of running for office as women, and what added value they felt women could bring.
Some of the women spoke about challenges they faced due to negative attitudes, but Randa Ibrahim Abou Saleh from Tyr Municipality said, “I haven’t had problems, I’ve been supported by the President of the Municipality, Deputy President, and all the members.”
Shorter also asked them about how they saw opportunities for women in the upcoming elections, and whether they saw municipality work as good preparation for parliament.
And in particular, he asked about their successes as municipal members.
“I did a great job, and that’s why they proposed me for a second mandate,” said Rita Tawil of Chiyah Municipality. “But I’m against the quota – I want women to prove themselves for themselves, not to be pushed by men.”
Randa Ibrahim Abou Saleh from Tyr said that, as head of the Women and Child Committee, she was “working to strengthen the role of women in society, improve their self-confidence, and help women to realize their potential, as well as working to benefit children.”
And Amal Takieddine of Chouf Municipality, who supported a quota for women, said that, “As women, we prove ourselves as highly committed and qualified, for a better tomorrow. My main priority is empowering and motivating youth and women.
Rima Kronbie, the Deputy Head of Arsal municipality said she was also against the quota because “women can prove their qualifications. In my role I am networking with everyone, including security services, and because of my background I understand and know about the people’s concerns… I encourage all women to run for municipalities and parliament.”
“It was an inspiration to meet women municipality members today,” Shorter said after the meeting. ‘Selima Dergham was the first woman to head a municipality in Lebanon back in 1963, and Mirna Bustani was the first woman elected to parliament in 1963. Women today are continuing their tradition of contributing to their community and their nation. Around the world it has been shown that societies and economies succeed when women are able to participate fully, and the women I met today are the living evidence of that. That’s why I welcome the campaign, which we’ve seen across the country, to bring more Lebanese women into public office. I’m also proud that the British Embassy has been supporting projects helping to raise the visibility of women parliamentary candidates from across the political spectrum and equip them, through training, with the tools they need to succeed.”