6 Promote gender equality and empower women

Where we are?

At first sight, Lebanon seems to have achieved Target 3.A of MDG 3 on eliminating gender disparity in all education cycles. However, an in-depth look at gender equality indicators in the economic and political fields reveals many gaps resulting from entrenched sociocultural, political, legal and structural factors that contest women’s rights as equal citizens in Lebanon.

A Situation Analysis: Achievements And Challenges
At all educational levels in Lebanon, gender parity is achieved (figure 5.1). At the university level, the
latest available figures show a ratio of girls to boys of 1.12. When looking at the figures by location,
there seems to be a bias against boys in the most remote poor locations. In areas of poverty, boys
often drop out of school before girls, as they are the first entrants to the labour force (CAS 2010b). The successful narrowing of the male/female educational gap is still not fully reflected in labour force participation, though an improvement has taken place in recent years. A 2010 survey revealed that 70 percent of working-age men are in the labour force, versus only 24 percent of working-age women (World Bank 2012c). The latter had increased from 23 percent in 2009 and 21 percent in 2007. The figures show that increasing numbers of women are becoming economically active (CAS 2010b). The gap in participation between men and women is narrowest in the age bracket 25–29 years, where the rate for women peaks at 47 percent.

This might suggest that women exit the labour force once their family role expands to include motherhood. The indicator on the share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector is deemed to be quite high in Lebanon. Of all working women, only 5.7 percent are in agriculture and more than 80 percent are in trade and services, reflecting the structure of the economy and the jobs offered. Moreover, 73 percent of working women are wage employees versus 36 percent of “own account workers”, and less than 1 percent are employers. Looking at occupation, women are more employed in mid-level jobs, as only 7 percent are senior officials, managers or legislators (that is, in high decision-making jobs), versus 16 percent of men (CAS 2010b). These occupations and positions are also in line with the choices of specializations made during university education that ultimately lead to wage employment.


UNDP's work in Lebanon


    Women's Cooperatives in Lebanon empowered by the sweet taste of success
    Women's Cooperatives in Lebanon empowered by the sweet taste of success

    After the July 2006 war severely damaged Lebanon's socio-economic and infrastructure, the establishment of income-generating projects in highly war-affected areas, especially projects targeting women was crucial to support the infrastructural and agricultural services and cooperatives.more

Targets for MDG3
  1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
    • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament