On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Ms. Joanna Wronecka visited today the Lebanese army’s first Gender Department and took part in a roundtable discussion organized by UN Women with women-led organizations working on issues of peace, security and social cohesion in Lebanon.
“Women’s role in promoting peace and security is vital, whether in decision-making positions or at the grassroots and working levels to address any opportunities and challenges,” the UN Special Coordinator said. “This role must not be undermined or neglected to enable Lebanon to benefit from the full potential of all its citizens,” she added.
At the headquarters of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in Yarzeh, the Special Coordinator met the head of the army’s Gender Department Col. Marwa Saoud who explained the new department’s objectives and plan of action. Officially launched in late December, the Gender Department will help integrate a gender perspective at the highest policy level of the LAF and contribute to its mainstreaming throughout its various departments.
Praising the leadership role of LAF Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun in this regard, the Special Coordinator said, “The establishment of a Gender Department in the Lebanese Armed Forces is a remarkable step forward and an inspiration for all other security institutions, in line with the commitment set out in Lebanon’s National Action Plan on UN Security Council 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.”
She affirmed the UN’s full readiness to support the LAF Gender department, including by mobilizing requisite international support for its effective operations.
The Special Coordinator later in the day joined a lively discussion, moderated by UN Women, with representatives of six independent women-led organizations engaged in different peacebuilding efforts in Lebanon through socio-economic recovery, political participation and representation as well as community empowerment, including Auberge Beity, Madanyat, ONDES, SEEDS, Haven for Artists, Fe-Male and Dar Al-Amal.
While reiterating the importance of promoting equal rights for women and their access to all levels of representation in society, discussions focused on the need to encourage more women to come forward in the upcoming parliamentary elections as both candidates and voters and on women’s role in climate action, which is this year’s global theme for International Women’s Day. The Special Coordinator highlighted that “Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men; and women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation”.
“Women are making enormous contributions in Lebanon, particularly at the grassroots levels. But much of this tireless work is being done without much media and public attention,” the Special Coordinator said. “I was delighted to discuss today with a group of distinguished women some of the efforts they are leading to promote social cohesion, support for good governance, climate action, opportunities for youth, non-discrimination and other development efforts aimed at building a new Lebanon,” she added.
The Special Coordinator underlined that the UN, led by UN Women, would continue to support and advocate through its different programs for improving the conditions and representation of women in Lebanon.