Aoun's FPM have caused quite a stir with this poster calling you to, "be beautiful and vote". So much so that they felt the need to write an article defending the campaign (in Arabic). The Feminist Collective stated 12 reasons as to why they found this billboard offensive, while Menassat wrote a story with the title "Be Beautiful and Vote" or "Be Intelligent and Vote Blank?" And +961 posted a great blog on the billboard war that this poster has sparked and the general contest that billboards have sparked.
This debate must lead to an actual discussion of women and the elections.
Of the 12 female candidates for this election only three are likely to be elected and all are attached to powerful families and/or male figures: Nayla Tunei, Bahia Hariri and Stridea Geagea. This will mean that the number of women in the Lebanese Parliament is likely to stay the same at three. IRIN articulated how bad this situation is by stating that this number was, " far fewer than politically restricted neighbors such as Syria, which had 30 women MPs out of 250; Jordan which had 13 out of 165; and Egypt which had 31 out of 718."
A quota for women?
Aoun has been criticized by the fact that the FPM are not fielding any female candidates. Aoun responded by stating that he had asked three women to run "but they apologized saying they were not ready.” Aoun went on to defend his record with regard to women's rights stating that he supported the draft law wanting to establish a quota for women in Parliament and that “women should have 50% of the parliamentary seats, not 10 or 20%.”
In an interview with Now Lebanon Nayla Tueni stated she was against a quota. "I’m not with the quota for women because it’s like you’re putting limits for women. It’s not ideal to say, for example, “You only have 15 seats for women.” I’d like to see a much bigger number of women in parliament, and there should be.
The debate as to whether a quota should be established or not for women certainly needs a to be continued and focused on a lot more. While, Lebanon may have a better situation for women in the job market the parliamentary representation of the expected 3 out of 128 is abysmal; women do after all make up 52% of the population.
The 12 female candidates for this elections are:
Ghada al-Dandashi Sunni, Tripoli
Hoda Sankari Sunni, Tripoli
Regine Kantara Maronite, Tripoli
Sethrida Geagea Maronite, March 14, Bcharre
Ibtisam Saadi Sunni, Baalbek-Hermel
Magda Bridi Catholic, Zahli
Norma Ferzli, Greek Orthodox, West Bekka-Rashaya
Therese Rizk Allah Maronite, Baabda
Gilberte Zouwien Maronite, FPM, Kesrwan
Nayla Tueni, Greek Orthodox, March 14 affiliated, Beriut 1
Ghenwa Jalloul, Sunni, Beirut 3
Bahia Hariri, Sunni, March 14, Saida
UPDATE: This billboard appears to be getting more and more popular as the English paper The Times included the billboard in its picture of the day.