Lebanon gets first minister for women. The catch? It’s a man

Published December 20th, 2016 - 09:09 GMT
President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri last month (AFP)
President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri last month (AFP)

Lebanon has at last managed to appoint a cabinet, almost two months after its parliament elected Michel Aoun as President. However, some of the ministerial choices are raising eyebrows in the country.

Most particularly, the selection for the nation’s first ever women’s minister has tickled the Lebanese public. Jean Ogasapian, a 62-year-old man with a lengthy army career, has been deemed the most appropriate representative for women’s issues in government.

Many in Lebanon have expressed their consternation via Twitter:

If Lebanon, one of the countries of the Middle East which is most advanced with regards to women's rights, has placed a man as the Minister for Women's Affairs, then there is no hope for the rest.

Minister of Youth and Sports gets a stern, inactive old man. The Minister of State for Women's Affairs is a man. Lebanon you have failed the youth and female demographics. Congratulations government.

 

The appointment has proved excellent material for Twitter's satirists:

The Government of Lebanon: the Minister of Youth is an elderly man, the Minister for Women is a man, the Minister of Health is an engineer and the Minister of Culture is a doctor!

However, others couldn't see what was so funny:

The Minister of State for Women's Affairs... what's so strange? Hair dressers are men... Cooks are men.... Fashion designers are men... The state has understood the matter correctly... I will not allow laughter #NoJoke

Women's rights are no laughing matter in the country. Out of Lebanon’s 128-seat parliament just four are held by women, and only a single female minister has been selected for the new government. There is some hope for change, however, as Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to implement a women’s quota, used elsewhere in the Middle East, ahead of the upcoming June elections.

The new unity government encompasses figures from across the political and sectarian spectrum. Many hope that it will bring stability to the country, which is currently facing pressure as a result of tensions boiling over from neighboring Syria.

RA

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