In 2019, according to the World Economic Forum, Lebanon went from ranking 140th to 145th (out of 153 countries) on the Global Gender Gap Index. Lebanon is now ranked behind Egypt, Jordan or Morocco and right before Saudi Arabia (146th) and Iran (148th).

Lebanon’s gender gap between women and men is growing each year since previous years and that reveals how women’s rights must be improved or basically implemented in the country.

The six followings issues show up how women’s inclusion and protection need a radical improvement.


In 2020, Lebanese mothers still cannot pass down their nationality to their children if their father is not Lebanese.

This situation is due to Decree (No15/1925[1]) on Lebanese Nationality which stipulates “Is considered Lebanese: every person born of a Lebanese father”.

Despite the fact that Lebanon ratified the Universal Declaration for Human Rights (UDHR) which mentions the right to a nationality for everyone and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”, Lebanese mothers are still deprived of their basic rights as citizens.

Lebanon also ratified CEDAW, including article 9 that stipulates “States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality”.

In addition to violating women’s basic rights, the law on Lebanese Nationality creates a real risk for every child who was born from a Lebanese mother and is not recognized by the father. The Lebanese government still endorses the birth of stateless children from Lebanese mothers in the country. These children will know huge difficulties in access to education, health care or social services.[2]                                                                                                            


In Lebanon, there is still a debate between political forces for and against the principle of creating quotas for women in institutions of governance.

The quotas system is a recommendation from CEDAW[3] in order to improve women’s participation in decision-making positions and according to the Article 4 of the Convention, “Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination”.

Since Lebanon ratified the convention in 1996, successive Lebanese government has failed to implement a female quota. However, the new government tries to respect the parity principle yet only 4,5% of Lebanon’s parliament are females. Lebanon is ranked far behind Iraq (25,5) or Tunisia (22,8) in terms of women representation at parliaments.[4]

25 years ago, the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing (1995) and it called for action for “the equal mobilization of men and women on the level of decision, policy-making, and setting aside quotas to ensure a minimal female representation of 30 per cent’. Under this level women cannot form a decisive or influential decision-making bloc.


In Lebanon, around 250.000[5] women migrant domestic workers were still excluded from labor law protection by 2018.

The Kafala system used in many other countries like Saudi Arabia is a huge challenge for women’s rights, and those who are under it are placed at very important risk of exploitation and abuse. Employers are able to urge them to work without taking days off or to confiscate workers’ passports. These extreme life conditions are dramatically revealing by the death rate of two domestic workers a week as a result of suicide in 2019.[6]

The Kafala System is an obvious violation of the article 3 of the UDHR which mentions “Everyone’s right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment” and article 4 concerning slavery and servitude, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

The Kafala system is a form of modern slavery very concerning in Lebanon and despite of both treaties’ signature and death rate of migrant’s workers, the Lebanese government still did not implement effective measures and laws to protect women from slavery.


The current Lebanese law defines domestic violence narrowly. KAFA, a national NGO advocating for women’s rights, reported to Annahar English in 2018 that it was receiving 2,600 calls in its domestic abuse helpline each year.[7] The Lebanese parliament finally passed the domestic violence law on April 1, 2014 which establishes important protection measures and initiatives against domestic violence but fails to protect women from marital rape and other abuses.


 While there is a Penal law to criminalize sexual abuse in Lebanon, there is no law to criminalize sexual harassment itself. In addition, sexual harassment in workplaces seems not criminalized or defined by the law, although at least three draft laws were proposed on sexual harassment and many campaigns before and during the uprising were launched to highlight the urgent need for legislation around sexual harassment in Lebanon.


Another issue faced by women in Lebanon is personal status law and religious courts which do not have to adhere to civil court relating to domestic violence or children custody.

As a result, women are trapped in abusive marriages, women cannot have the custody of their children even if their husband is abusive[8], women cannot take care of their children if the court decided a divorce without custody.

Recently a Lebanese woman, Lina Jaber was “forbidden to bid her dying child the last farewell, or attend her own kid's funeral, or even touch her kid's grave[9] and this dramatic situation was permitted by Court.

Lina, as many other women and their kids, are victims of religious courts and a system based on ancient laws in Lebanon that govern over family matter, in a complete denied of individuals rights.

Even if article 10 of the UDHR mentions that “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”, Lebanese women, national and international NGOs, and activists still have to launch campaigns and slogans such as “My Custody Is My Right" defending women’s rights.

Such slogan is somewhat similar to the viral slogan “My body my rules” which was launched to stand up for the constant criticism and social labialization on women’s body image and consciousness, which reinforces that in many different contexts, women rights’ need to be implemented and international conventions need to be transferred on a national level in order for laws to be efficient and grant equality to all humans without discrimination.  


[1] Article 1 of the Decree No15 on Lebanese Nationality 19 January 1925,,

[2] UNHCR Lebanon, Fact sheep,  2019.

[3] General Recommendation No. 5, 1988 of the CEDAW, calling on” States Parties to take special measures such as ‘preferential treatment or quota systems’ to advance women’s integration into political life”.

[4]The Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World, Lebanese American University, Issue 126-127, Summer/Fall 2009,

[5] Middle East Monitor, ‘Women migrant workers come together against the kafala system in Lebanon’ (Memo, May 08, 2019) 

[6] The Daily Star, ‘Lebanon’s kafala system explained’ (The Daily Star, May 20, 2020) 

[7] Annahar English, ‘NAYA Analysis | Domestic violence in Lebanon: Prevalent yet underrated’ (Annahar English, 31 July, 2018)