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RAYA HAFFAR CRACKS LEBONAN'S MALE DOMINATED POLITICAL SPECTRUM


BEIRUT - Mother of three Raya Haffar Hassan cracked Lebanon's male-dominated political spectrum last week when she was appointed finance minister, the first time for a woman to land such a top job.
  • Activists say the appointment of Hassan and State Minister Mona Afeish in the new 30-member national unity government unveiled on November 9 is a welcome step, but remains a mere "crack in the political glass ceiling."
  • Raya, who has an MBA, was selected by Prime Minister Saad Hariri while Afeish, an attorney and civil society activist, was named by President Michel Sleiman.
  • "The glass ceiling? I guess you could say it's cracked," said Aman Kabbara Shaarani, who heads the Lebanese Council of Women, an umbrella group of several organisations.
  • "Prime Minister Saad Hariri took a good step by appointing two women to his cabinet, but this is far from enough," she said.
  • Lebanon prides itself as a pioneer of women's liberation in the Arab world but it still lags behind some of its more conservative neighbours and only four women have seats in the 128-strong parliament.
  • In government, female representation fares poorly as well.
  • The first woman to be appointed to a government was the daughter of Lebanon's first prime minister Riad Solh, Leila Solh Hamadeh, who served as industry minister from 2004 to 2005.
  • "We would have hoped women to get at least 30 percent representation in government, especially since women accounted for 53 percent of all ballots cast in our elections last June," Shaarani said.
  • "Unfortunately in this country, qualified women do not reach high-level posts because political shares are divided among men and along sectarian lines," she added.
  • "But our two new female ministers are highly qualified, so it's a step forward in terms of quality at least."
  • Raya is no newcomer to the world of finance. She has contributed to the establishment of assistance programmes in Lebanon set up by the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.
Source:Midlle East Online
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