The challenges encountered by women in society often make it difficult for them to break out of their traditional roles especially when facing a global pandemic and an economic crisis. Within the scope of integrating gender equality across economic growth in Lebanon, the UNDP implemented, with the support of Germany through KfW, a gender equality session in Kfardebian to raise awareness about the fundamental role women play in the economy in general and in the forestry sector in particular.
The interactive session introduced key concepts underlying gender equality, gender-based violence and gender gaps through real-life examples and daily behaviors. Participants highlighted some examples of gender stereotypes such as: “men have more power than women”, which may set boundaries to the roles of women, when in reality, they are indefinite and interchangeable.
Eliane Salame, a 21-year-old municipality police officer who’s participating in the forest activities expressed: “These roles are challenging because some people may frame them as unfeminine while I’m a strong believer that women can fit everywhere and do everything. it’s all about practice and improvement.".”
Acknowledging that women have the same human rights as men is a main component of an equal society. The gender session touched upon these rights and questioned the structural barriers that may lead to gender inequality in the private and public spheres such as ongoing gender discrimination in national laws, persistent harmful traditional practices and patriarchal structures reinforcing women’s marginalization and exclusion. It also shed light on the role of men and boys in challenging the dominant social norms and shifting behaviors to achieve gender equality.
“We should see more women working in non-traditional jobs that the Lebanese people aren’t used to seeing them in yet,” said Charbel Bteich, athlete and biking champion. “During the forest activities, girls and boys have the same tasks, we help each other as a team to improve our environment and benefit from this job opportunity.”
The participants were given real life examples of the work that has been successfully accomplished by women in forest activities Lebanon, demonstrating that there are no limitations to the capabilities of women and girls.
“To every girl saying I want to emigrate because I can’t find a job, you should always try to create an opportunity for yourself and never say this is only for men, all job opportunities are for both. I also advise everyone not to leave the country because Lebanon really needs young people at this stage,” said Rebecca Zgheib student and municipality police officer.