Running for Local Elections 2016: Women’s Journey towards Winning
Owner of a small bakery business in her hometown, and a former history teacher, Ms. Eva Salibi lost all interest in running for the 2016 municipal elections in Batloun, Aley due to many local factors and family pressures.
“When I participated in the Lebanese Women in Municipalities session in Aley (Mount Lebanon), I regained my enthusiasm and courage and I was motivated to run for elections again, especially after listening to the testimonials of women who won the local elections in 2010.”
Her future plan is to continue working on small bookstore project that she started few years ago, and advocating for the traffic safety in the municipality in cooperation with Youth Association for Social Awareness (YASA). Ms. Salibi is one of the three women elected out of the 9 members’ municipal council. “We, as women, are working hard in Batloun and this is why people voted for us”.
Ms. Salibi is one of the 661 women who were elected in the 2016 local elections and one of the 600 women who participated in the “Lebanese Women in Municipalities” info sessions that were organized by UNDP LEAP, in coordination with the United Nations, National Democratic Institute and Women in Front, across Lebanon.
Her compeer in the Bekaa region, Mrs. Maha Maalouf Kassouf, also won a seat in the municipal council of Zahle. The science teacher, civil activist, founder of the “Rotary” club in Bekaa and board member of the Society of Lebanese Friends of People with Multiple Sclerosis (ALSEP) noted that “the campaign’s skills handbook and the Women’s Guide to Municipal Councils distributed during the training sessions provided us with necessary simplified information that were easy to read and to comprehend.”
In the upcoming six years, Mrs. Kassouf will focus on empowering women and youth through conducting trainings on skill development and creating job opportunities for them. Consequently, she was entrusted with the committee of Women and Youth in the municipality. “We are in desperate need to market the various food products that women do in Zahle”. She believes that her male colleagues in the new elected municipal council have a great respect for her and she is looking forward to cooperate with them for the welfare of Zahle.
In Akkar governorate, the municipal council of Arka won uncontested elections with 2 women out of a total of 9 members. Mrs. Ola el Khatib is a housewife and now a member of this municipal council, “even if there was consensus on the municipal council, but the knowledge that I gained from the Lebanese Women in Municipalities info sessions empowered me and the participants to face obstacles with confidence”. She is grateful for her husband’s support and encouragement throughout this journey. “My husband and my family believed in me and pushed me to run for the local elections”.
Mrs. El Khatib will work on the safety of the rural roads and Akkar highway safety and traffic lights and signs “it is an urgent need to fix the roads after the high increase of accidents and death polls”.
It is worth mentioning that Women in Municipalities info sessions aimed at providing potential candidates with effective tools and materials to encourage them to run as candidates in the local elections. The sessions were conducted in Jounieh, Aley, Beirut, Chtaura, Tyr, Tripoli and Halba covering all the governorates of the Lebanon, from 29 March to 12 May 2016.
In the recently concluded 2016 local elections, 6 women from the 600 who participated in these info sessions were elected in the municipal councils. In the post-electoral period, UNDP LEAP will continue supporting the elected women through providing technical expertise for their role in the municipal council and engaging them in capacity building activities.
LEAP is funded by the European Union.