Lebanon ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) on April 21, 1997.


Upon ratification, Lebanon made reservations to the following CEDAW articles: 9:2, 16, and 29 as described in detail below.

  • The Government of the Lebanese Republic enters reservations regarding article 9 (2), and article 16 (1) (c) (d) (f) and (g) (regarding the right to choose a family name).
  • In accordance with paragraph 2 of article 29, the Lebanese Republic declares that it does not consider itself bound by the provisions of paragraph 1 of that article.

Summary of Official CEDAW Reports:

To date, Lebanon has submitted three official periodic reports to the CEDAW Committee (“Committee”). The first report was released in November 2003, the second in February 2005 and third in July 2006.

In response to the most recent report, the Committee released comments in 2008 regarding Lebanon’s progress in implementing CEDAW as well as the areas of concerns. The Committee expressed appreciation to Lebanon for their written replies to the issues expressed by the pre-session working group as well as the frank and constructive dialogue held between the Delegation and the Committee. The Committee also commended the delegation as well as the timely reporting of the third periodic report.

A detailed account of progress expressed by the Committee following Lebanon’s report in 2006 as follows:

  • Establishment, through the decree of the Prime Minister in April 2007, a Steering Committee led by the Ministry of Labor to reform the 1946 Labor Law.
  • Post-conflict efforts to mainstream the role of women in peace building, decision-making, development and rehabilitation process in ten villages which were heavily affected by the conflict in Lebanon in July and August 2006.
  • Implementation of a project entitled “WEPASS” aimed at empowering women in the conflict-affected regions with a view to capacity building in the main areas of concern covered by Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
  • Signature by the State party of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol on 14 June 2007.

A detailed account of recommendations made by the Committee following Lebanon’s report in 2006 as follows:

  • Implementation of the Committee’s comments, in particular, its recommendations in paragraphs 95 (to include provisions guaranteeing equality on the basis of sex, in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention, in the Constitution or in other appropriate legislation), 98 (to undertake a systematic review and revision of all existing legislation to bring it fully into compliance with the Convention), 106 (to design and implement comprehensive awareness-raising programs to foster a better understanding of and support for equality between women and men at all levels of society), 108 (to take sustained measures to accelerate the increase in the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas of public life) and 110 (to eliminate occupational segregation, ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the labor market and establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure enforcement of legislation requiring employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value).
  • Ensure that the promotion and protection of women’s human rights and gender equality is a central goal of all aspects of the transition process and to raise the legislature’s awareness of that important goal.
  • Devote serious attention to the specific needs of women in the post-conflict period and ensure women’s equal participation in decision-making, in conformity with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, and put in place an action plan for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), taking into account paragraph 1 of article 4, and articles 7 and 8 of the Convention.
  • Develop and implement awareness-raising programs and training on the provisions of the Convention, in particular with regard to the meaning and scope of direct and indirect discrimination and about formal and substantive equality, for parliamentarians, government officials, judges, lawyers and prosecutors, so as to establish firmly a domestic legal culture supportive of women’s equality and non-discrimination.
  • Enhance women’s awareness of their rights through sustained legal literacy programs and legal assistance.
  • Widely disseminate the Convention and its general recommendations among all stakeholders, including government ministries, parliamentarians, the judiciary, political parties, the civil society, including non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the general public.
  • Proceed with the elaboration, adoption and implementation of the National Plan of Action for Human Rights without delay and within a clear time frame.
  • Urgently adopt a unified personal status code which is in line with the Convention and would be applicable to all women in Lebanon, irrespective of their religion; and include, in its next periodic report, detailed information on the various personal status codes affecting women, and the impact of these codes on implementation of the Convention.
  • Give urgent priority to the strengthening of the national machinery for the advancement of women, and provide it with the authority, decision-making power and human and financial resources that are necessary to work effectively for the promotion of equality of women and the enjoyment of their human rights.
  • Institute or revitalize a system of focal points with sufficient expertise in gender equality issues in all sectoral ministries to strengthen the implementation of the gender mainstreaming strategy to ensure the realization of equality of women with men in all policies and programs, and institute a system of collaboration and networking between the national machinery and the focal points.
  • Use temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, as part of a necessary strategy to accelerate the achievement of de facto equality between women and men, and consider using a range of possible measures, such as quotas, benchmarks, targets and incentives, in particular with regard to accelerated implementation of articles 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14 of the Convention.
  • Enhance the training of teaching staff on gender equality issues and revise educational textbooks and curricula to eliminate gender-role stereotypes.
  • Disseminate information on the Convention through all levels of the educational system, including through human rights education and gender-sensitivity training, so as to change existing stereotypical views and attitudes about women’s and men’s roles, and encourage diversification of the educational choices of boys and girls.
  • Encourage a public dialogue on the educational choices girls and women make and their subsequent opportunities and chances in the labor market, and make sure that awareness-raising campaigns be addressed to both women and men and that the media be encouraged to project positive images of women and of the equal status and responsibilities of women and men in the private and public spheres.
  • In accordance with its general recommendation No. 19 recognizing that violence against women is a form of discrimination against women and thus constitutes a violation of their human rights under the Convention, place high priority on establishing and implementing comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls.
  • Enact, without delay, legislation on violence against women, including domestic violence, so as to ensure that violence against women constitutes a criminal offense, and that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.
  • Amend, without delay, applicable provisions in the Penal Code to ensure that perpetrators of honor crimes are not exonerated, that marital rape is criminalized and that marriage to the victim does not exempt a sexual offender from punishment, and also introduce and implement educational and awareness-raising measures aimed at law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health service providers, social workers, community leaders and the general public, in order to ensure that they understand that all forms of violence against women are unacceptable.
  • Provide detailed information in its next report on the laws and policies in place to deal with violence against women and the impact of such measures.
  • Intensify its efforts to combat all forms of trafficking in women and girls, including by enacting specific and comprehensive legislation and by putting in place programs for the repatriation and reintegration of victims of trafficking.
  • Increase its international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin and transit so as to address more effectively the causes of trafficking, and improve prevention of trafficking through information exchange.
  • Collect and analyze data from the national, regional and international police and other sources, prosecute and punish traffickers, and ensure the protection of the human rights of trafficked women and girls, including protective measures and legal assistance. Ensure that trafficked women and girls are not subject to prosecution of immigration laws and have adequate support to be in a position to provide testimony against their traffickers.
  • Speedily enact the draft law regulating the employment of domestic workers which is currently being considered by a steering committee established in April 2007 to address the situation of women migrant workers and to supervise its compliance by employment agencies and employers, and establish procedures to monitor and safeguard the rights of women domestic workers and adequately prosecute and punish abusive employers. Provide domestic workers with viable avenues of redress against abuse by employers, and undertake efforts to ensure that domestic workers are aware of their rights and legal protections and have access to legal aid.
  • Include information on the steps and measures taken and on their impact, and data on the prevalence of violence against women domestic workers in its next periodic report.
  • Take adequate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the area of taxation.
  • Put in place mechanisms to make health care services accessible to all groups of women and to ensure that all health policies and programs integrate a gender perspective in accordance with article 12 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 24 on women and health.
  • Pay special attention to the needs of rural women, ensuring that they participate in decision-making processes that affect them and have full access to justice, education, health services and credit facilities.
  • Take appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women with respect to ownership and inheritance of land, and ensure that a gender perspective is included in all poverty reduction plans and strategies.
  • Collect data on the situation of rural women and include such data and analysis in its next periodic report.
  • Provide, in its next report, a comprehensive picture of the de facto situation of disabled women as well as women who care for the disabled family members and to take appropriate measure to protect their rights.
  • Adopt laws and regulations relating to the status of asylum-seekers and refugees in Lebanon, in line with international standards, in order to ensure protection for asylum-seeking and refugee women and their children.
  • Consider accession to international instruments to address the situation of refugees and stateless persons, including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.
  • Fully integrate a gender-sensitive approach throughout the process of granting asylum/refugee status, and implement targeted measures for refugee women and girls and internally displaced women and girls, within specific timetables, to improve access to education, employment, health and housing and to protect them from all forms of violence and to monitor their implementation, and report on the results achieved in improving the situation of these groups of women and girls in its next periodic report.
  • Recognize the negative impact of its nationality law on Lebanese women married to foreigners and on the children of those women and, accordingly, revise its nationality law and remove its reservation to article 9, paragraph 2.
  • Remove its reservation to article 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d), (f) and (g) of the Convention, and ensure equality for women in marriage and its dissolution by giving women equal rights to property accumulated during marriage, in light of article 16 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 21 on equality in marriage and family relations.
  • Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.
  • Utilize fully, in its implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and include information thereon in its next periodic report.
  • Integrate a gender perspective and explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and include information thereon in its next periodic report.
  • Consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Widely disseminate in Lebanon the present concluding comments in order to make the people, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality of women, as well as the further steps that are required in that regard.
  • Convene a public forum involving all State actors as well as the civil society to discuss the presentation of the report and the content of the concluding comments.
  • Continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention, its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.
  • Respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its combined fourth and fifth periodic report before 16 May 2014.

Summary of Shadow Reports:

To date, a number of shadow reports have been submitted regarding the progress of the implementation of CEDAW in Lebanon. The third official shadow report was released in 2007 by the Committee for the Follow-Up on Women’s Issues, supported by the UNICEF-Beirut office, in coordination with other 15 local women’s associations.

The report noted the following critical failures of the Lebanese government:

  • More than 10 years have passed since Lebanon ratified CEDAW with many reservations (paragraph 2 of Article 9 on nationality, paragraphs (c, d, e, g) of Article 16 on the Civil Status Law, paragraph 1 of Article 29 on conflict resolution); however, no amendment of these reservations were made.
  • More than 10 years have passed since the establishment of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, which is a mechanism that is directly related to the office of the prime minister. The commission did not submit any proposals to lift the reservations of the articles that Lebanon had remarks on.
  • A parliamentary commission for women was established. However, until now, the forms of its actions and scope of work have not been determined. It did not forward any suggestions to lift off the reservations made by the government on the document.
  • Even though the government allocated in its ministerial statement a paragraph relevant to women and the government’s intention to implement the relevant conventions and the declarations, and even though the Human Rights parliamentary commission started to draft a plan to enhance human rights, which the women advancement plan is part of, the government did not submit any strategy to eradicate violence against women. This is manifested in the absence of any programs by the committee for updating the laws, which has been working since Lebanon entered the phase of peace. It does not have any programs to set laws to curb violence against women or look after victims of violence.
  • The government or the relevant governmental bodies do not have any programs to eliminate discrimination in the various economic and media fields.
  • The government did not submit any programs to involve the civil society in the relevant decisions.
  • The Lebanese government has to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their families.
  • There are no laws that protect a female refugee and female migrant domestic workers from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • There government has no national strategy to enhance women.
  • The national plan to promote women is the first step towards women’s progress in Lebanon.

This shadow report made the following recommendations to improve the status of women in Lebanon:

  • Integrate the concept of gender, i.e. taking into account the issues of both genders in all policies and sectors and in all sectors, including measures of training, capacity building, establishment of special units inside ministries and administrations to detect and monitor the implementation of this concept.
  • Give ultimate priority to endorse a comprehensive methodology to confront violence against women and girls and integrate this methodology in all the economic, social and cultural policies.
  • Draft new laws to protect women are subject to violence and punish those exercising violence against women.
  • Create laws that protect female refugees and migrant workers from trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • Implement internal measures, including positive distinguishing (quota) in order to improve and enhance women’s participation in decision-making, particularly in electing committees.
  • Adopt legislative measures to promote awareness towards the necessity to amend stereotypical laws and traditional standards on the roles and the responsibilities of each of men and women in the family and at work. The profound study on “violence against women”, issued by the secretary-general, stressed that lack of equality is a reason behind violence. Stereotypical roles in society constitute a dangerous obstacle that prevent women from enjoying human rights and hinder the complete implementation of the convention.
  • Build equilibriums on the basis of gender in interest men and women.
  • Lift the reservations off paragraph 2 of Article 9, relevant to nationality and paragraphs (c, d, f, g) of Article 16 which is relevant to personal status, because these reservations contradict the essence of the convention.
  • Promulgate a unified law for personal status that could be applicable on all women, regardless of their religions. It is high time that the government adopts the necessary measures in order to unify religious courts and render them affiliated with the Justice Ministry.
  • Implement the preferential treatment or the quota to expedite women’s integration in different sectors and facilitate her accession to the voting bodies.
  • Change the paragraph on women in the ministerial statement and the advancement plan endorsed by the Human Rights parliamentary committee into procedures and legislations.
  • Form lobbying groups and establish alliances in order to promote women’s issues .
  • Raise the awareness of women and guide them to their rights.
  • Build a public opinion in order to lift the reservations off CEDAW

In 2008, a shadow report was submitted by a group under the umbrella association Palestinian Refugee Women in Lebanon. This report focused on the discrimination faced by refugee women in Lebanon and the failure of the law to protect refugees’ rights.

Another shadow report was submitted by HELEM: Lebanese Protection for Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals and Transgenders in January 2008. This report focused on violence against women on the basis of sexual orientation, and recommends repeal of article 534 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sexual acts deemed “contradictory to nature”, as well as the introduction of non-biased sexuality education in schools.

Recent Updates:

Many women’s organizations in Lebanon work to improve the rights of women. Among them are the Lebanese Association for Combating Violence Against Women, the Committee for the Political Rights of Women, the Lebanese Women’s Council, the Lebanese Association of Women Lawyers, and the Council for Lebanese Women’s Organizations. Over the past two decades, these women’s NGOs have played a large role in enforcing CEDAW in Lebanon through awareness-raising programs and shadow reporting.

Although women in Lebanon have taken an active role in education and economy, they face significant discrimination in the political sphere. The Lebanese government created a National Authority on Women’s Issues, which works to improve the status of women. The Authority’s National Action Plan for Women and National Committee for Women’s Affairs work to eliminate discrimination against women in the fields of work and education, by developing micro-credit and teaching women about their rights. Although women are present in the workforce, comprising approximately 29%, they have few opportunities to rise to senior levels.

Lebanon’s common civil code governs many areas of women’s personal status, including the right to own a business and the right to equal testimony. However, religion also plays a role in determining women’s rights. Officially, Lebanon recognizes 19 groups that are each accorded their own, distinct religious law. Many women’s groups and the CEDAW Committee have requested that Lebanon reforms to develop a single codified personal status law, which would bring all marriages and subsequent rights under a common law. The Parliament has resisted these efforts and refused to implement such a unified code.

On March 11, 2009, the Daily Star reported on a series of events organized by women’s activists in honor of International Women’s Day. In addition to specific concerns over poor labor rights for migrant workers, the two sit-ins highlighted problems such as domestic violence, sexual and psychological abuse and pay inequality. The sit-ins were followed by a march organized by the Feminist Collective.

Feminist Collective noted that complaints among men and women were different based on their geographic location. For instance, in Hamra, both men and women reported frustration towards political and legislative discrimination, specifically in the areas of nationality, divorce and domestic abuse. However, in the Shiah district, women expressed gender oppression in the forms of domestic and economic problems. Many also claimed abuse and lack of household authority in their homes. Following their activities, many women’s activists said the outcomes of their efforts came as little surprise given that Lebanon is a deeply partitioned country, full with varied opinions and experiences on the part of its citizens.

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