Record women candidates in Lebanon vote, but you can't tell from TV

As its first parliamentary vote in nearly a decade approaches, Lebanon has been swept into campaign fever over new electoral procedures. (AFP)

A record number of women are running in Lebanon's upcoming parliamentary elections, but they are getting much less television air time than their male counterparts, a media monitor has said.

A total of 86 women are seeking legislative office in Lebanon's May 6 vote, out of 597 candidates.

A study by Maharat, a media monitor now closely following the elections, found television coverage of the elections rarely includes female candidates.

From March 26 until April 8, it monitored talk shows, live programming, and news broadcasts, and one-on-one interviews on local television stations.

A picture taken on April 3, 2018 shows a campaign billboard, for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections. (AFP)

A picture taken on April 3, 2018 shows a campaign billboard, for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections. (AFP)

Female candidates were featured as guests just 5.89% percent of the time, Maharat said, although they make up almost 15% of the candidates.

The vote will be Lebanon's first in nine years, after the parliament formed in 2009 extended its mandate three times, citing security concerns and an unsatisfactory electoral law.

The 128-member body agreed on a new voting system last year, paving the way for next month's elections.

"The electoral law guarantees fair competition between the male and female candidates and says they could be granted equal opportunity," said Tony Mikhael, who heads Maharat's media monitoring team.

Ameen Rizq, a Future movement candidate for the Lebanese parliamentary elections gives an interview for his campaign. (AFP)

Ameen Rizq, a Future movement candidate for the Lebanese parliamentary elections gives an interview for his campaign. (AFP)

Media organizations, he said, "should support gender equality and give women the same opportunities to put themselves forward as candidates".

The country's media outlets have been providing round-the-clock coverage of Lebanon's elections, but Maharat says that comes with a price.

The organization has noted that outlets are charging candidates thousands of dollars for air time and even more for interviews.

A picture taken on April 3, 2018 shows campaign posters, for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary election, hanging in the Tariq Jedideh district of Beirut. (AFP)

A picture taken on April 3, 2018 shows campaign posters, for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary election, hanging in the Tariq Jedideh district of Beirut. (AFP)

Many candidates, particularly those coming from outside Lebanon's traditional political elite, say they cannot afford to pay for television coverage.

Of the 86 women running, only 12 hail from Lebanon's conventional political parties.

One faction -- the powerful Iran-backed movement Hezbollah -- refused to put forward any female candidates.

The head of the Lebanese electoral monitoring committee, Judge Nadim Abdel-Malek, gives an interview to Agence France-Presse in Beirut on April 11, 2018. (AFP)

The head of the Lebanese electoral monitoring committee, Judge Nadim Abdel-Malek, gives an interview to Agence France-Presse in Beirut on April 11, 2018. (AFP)

"We in Hezbollah don't have women for this job," said the group's head Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech in January.

The 86 women candidates represent a more than seven-fold increase in female representation compared with the 2009 vote, when just 12 women ran for office.

A picture taken on April 3, 2018 shows campaign posters, for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary election, hanging in the industrial zone of Dora on the northern outskirts of Beirut. (AFP)

A picture taken on April 3, 2018 shows campaign posters, for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary election, hanging in the industrial zone of Dora on the northern outskirts of Beirut. (AFP)

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:02 - GMT 11:02
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