Podcasts from Beirut
Women in Politics Podcast with Paula Yacoubian, Carmen Geha & Luna Safwan #FemaleForward

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We ask, how can women better reach their goals in society, politics or at work? This is the question the Friedrich Naumann Foundation has asked in Germany and around the world. In Lebanon this topic is more relevant than ever: Even though there is a history in the Arab context of women being viewed in their roles of caretakers and mothers, the socio-political and economic challenges facing the region in the past decades have forced women to take on new roles. Lebanon is seen as one of the most progressive Arab countries in this context. Certainly, the social and economic freedoms for women in Lebanon are greater than those in other Arab countries, however, the political and business culture is still masculine in its structure and cannot be compared to western environments.

The society’s continued perception of women as homemakers, mothers, and wives, controls the sociably acceptable jobs that women, that do choose to follow careers, should pursue. However, Women and their traits and characteristics are specifically drawn to social causes. This also became visible through the leading role women have taken in the People’s Revolution, which has been taking place since mid-October 2019 in cities all across Lebanon. Female activists have been on the front lines, creating rows of women as human shields between security forces and protestors. Female professors are holding teach-in’s in public spaces to educate interested people on the situation and its background. Female organizers are mobilizing online guides and information platforms to unify efforts. Female artists are painting walls with messages of hope. Many are referring to the Revolution as the Female Revolution. This is especially relevant when considering the status of women in the Middle Eastern and Lebanon.

Therefore, for our first of two podcasts for this campaign, we have a look at the participation of Women in Politics and Women in Business in Lebanon, respectfully. Together with the speakers we want to highlight the barriers to women’s political participation, the cultural and societal norms of the country that women face, their personal experiences and special challenges.

For this episode Luna Safwan, award winning Lebanese Journalist and Activist sat down with two esteemed women of the field to discuss the topic and share their experiences.

Paula Yacoubian: Paula Yacoubian is a Lebanese politician and law-maker of Armenian origins. She was previously known as a journalist and a television host. Known for the transformational impact she's had in her organizations and the broader community, Paula became one of the experts chosen by the World Bank group as a member of their 'External Advisory Panel for Diversity and Inclusion' as a result of her advocacy for women's rights in Lebanon. In 2018 she successfully ran for for the Armenian Orthodox seat in the Beirut I constituency in the Lebanese Parliamentary Elections. After the August 4 Beirut Blast Paula resigned in protest along with other members of her party and called for a new government.

Dr. Carmen Geha: Carmen Geha is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration with a specialization in leadership, human resources, and organizational development at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She is also the Director of “Education for Leadership in Crisis” Scholarship Program for Afghan women at AUB.  Dr. Geha’s research examines the nexus between politics and public institutions with a focus on three areas of specialization in Middle Eastern Studies: 1- women’s political representation, 2- refugee crisis politics and policies, and 3- civil society and protest movements.

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