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In May 2010, Lebanon held its municipal elections. For the first time in its history, Lebanon adopted a 20% quota for women in municipal councils. Yet this was not the breakthrough. These municipal elections saw the concretization of the Women Empowerment: ‘Peaceful Action for Security and Stability’ (WEPASS) goals. In the villages of Seb’eel (North Caza), Kantara (Akkar Caza), Deir Mimas (South Caza), Kfeir (Beqaa Caza) and Beit Lahya (Nabatiyeh Caza), 19 women beneficiaries of the project ran for elections and 5 of them were elected members of municipal councils. 

The Women Empowerment: ‘Peaceful Action for Security and Stability’ (WEPASS) is a UNFPA-supported project that empowers Lebanese women through capacity development programs in the areas of decision making, participation, human rights, gender based violence, reproductive health, economic empowerment and women’s contribution to peace. WEPASS falls in line with the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. It was initiated after the July 2006 war on Lebanon and targets 22 war-affected as well as under-served villages and communities throughout Lebanon. WEPASS is implemented by the National Commission for Lebanese Women, in partnership with national and local partners. It is financed by the Multi- Donor Trust Fund of the Lebanese Recovery Fund. WEPASS targeted communities where women have been to some extent represented on the decision making level and as a result, WEPASS Women Committees (WWC) were established. 

Prior to the elections, 70 women from different villages throughout the country had participated in a workshop on electoral capacity building in villages. The workshop consisted of three aspects. The legal aspect presented women with the legal knowledge specific to municipal elections. Another aspect focused on the managerial and communication skills of the participants. It developed their capacities in addressing electors, recruiting volunteers for the electoral process, elaborating slogans and posters, as well as speaking to the media. The third aspect enabled them to design and develop strategies for local development. This workshop was part of the WEPASS’s participation and decision making component. 

The accession of WEPASS women to the municipal councils will undoubtedly promote women’s issues and needs to municipal agendas; it will also provide other women with role models for replication. 

You can visit WEPASS’ portal and read a WEPASS feature story on UNFPA’s global website