Speakers: Carmen Geha, Assistant Professor of Public Administration, Leadership and Organisational Development, American University of Beirut

Moderator: Lina Khatib, Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

Lebanese women have been at the forefront of the protest movement that has shaken Lebanon since October 2019. The active participation by women and their visibility in Lebanon’s protest movement has challenged the gender norms prevalent in Lebanese society and politics. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that ensued has disrupted women’s ability to organize, and is threatening the fragile progress towards female inclusion in the political process.

In a recent article, Carmen Geha discussed the politics of representation in the context of women’s participation in public life in Lebanon and argued that the country’s political system is maintained through tightly-knit informal power relations among sectarian politicians, making women’s participation in politics virtually impossible. The article explained how the October 2019 revolution challenged that norm by creating inclusive spaces where women activists could confront politicians and thus, transform the way women participate in politics and public life.

In this webinar, part of the Chatham House- Arab Reform Initiative joint project on the future of the state in the Middle East and North Africa, the article’s author will discuss how women’s activism in Lebanon has been affected by the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The speaker will consider how, under current circumstances, women activists can speak up collectively and bring back a movement to contest gender norms in order to build an alternative political model that can better represent women’s priorities.