The origin of women’s segregation in Lebanon’s political life between patriarchy and consociational democracy

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Sharif, Hind
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This paper postulates that the overlooked role of political familialism forms the foundation for women’s segregation in Lebanese politics. It focuses on internal features that characterize the dominant political parties to reveal that they are grounded on a system of political familialism which is based on patriarchal and hegemonic masculinity. As such, it argues that the deep structures of Lebanon’s political system produce elements (namely patriarchal kinship politics and clientilist networks) that are inhospitable for women in politics. Whilst political familialism is considered the root for the exclusion of women in politics, this system is augmented and enshrined by a majoritarian electoral system and a consociational model which lacks democratic qualities and enhances polarizations between the sects and sectarian hegemonic leadership; which, in turn, regenerates a fixed set of male-oriented political elites and families. As such, while adopting an electoral gender quota is necessary to enhance women’s political participation, this step must be accompanied with democratization initiatives to weaken the current familial and clientilist features that dominate Lebanon’s political system. Ergo, the author proposes establishing a law on political parties and an adoption of a proportional representation system as part of the institutional, electoral, and educational reforms towards further democratization.
Second semester University: Saint Joseph University, Beirut.
women, Lebanon, political participation, patriarchy, democracy