Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Jean Ogasapian Monday pledged his full support to women in the Arab world struggling for their "full rights" at an ESCWA event in Beirut.
"Appointing me as State Minister for Women's Affairs came as a surprise and today it became a challenge," Ogasapian said at the conference.
"I add my voice to that of Lebanese and Arab women who are struggling and accomplished many achievements... to grant women their full rights," the minister said.
The event, titled “Women’s empowerment is the nations’ empowerment,” is in recognition of International Women’s Day, observed and celebrated on March 8 every year.
Ogasapian announced that his ministry managed to set a clear hierarchy, appointed a team and established a website, in addition to following up on 11 draft laws at parliamentary committees and referring four decrees to the Cabinet for deliberations.
He added that the ministry’s objectives are to end discrimination and violence against women, and increase their role in political and economic life.
The minister also promised to cooperate with civil society and human rights organizations in an attempt to fortify women's role in the society.
The first minister of state for women’s affairs insisted last week that a women’s quota in upcoming elections should be set for parliamentary seats rather than candidacies. Ogasapian’s comments came during the official launch of the newly formed ministry and its website at the Grand Serail.
The minister presented a road map for the ministry’s goals that included ensuring equal access for men and women to all civil, economic, social, cultural and political rights as well as empowering women to enhance their potential and develop their capabilities.
Women’s rights activists have long lobbied for a 30-percent quota for female representation to be included in a new electoral law. Currently, four out of 128 MPs are women, while Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s 30-member government includes one female minister, the Minister of State for Administrative Development Inaya Ezzeddine.