SDG5: Gender Equality


The Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030), also known by its acronym SDGs, are an initiative promoted by the United Nations to give continuity to the development agenda after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are 17 objectives and 169 targets proposed as a continuation of the MDGs, including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption and peace, and justice, among other priorities. After a negotiation process on the SDGs that involved 193 member states of the UN, on September 25, 2015, the 193 world leaders approved at a summit held in New York in a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, an Agenda entitled “Transform our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ", which entered into force on January 1, 2016.

The 5th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for achieving gender equality and empowering all women, which requires a human rights-based approach, equality between men and women and support for women at several levels, including reproduction, health, economics, politics, law, rights and duties.

The elimination of all forms of discrimination against women is a decisive factor in accelerating the achievement of sustainable development, as evidenced by the fact that UN figures indicated that empowering women has a multiplied effect that helps drive economic growth and development in all areas.

In Lebanon, Article 7 of the Constitution states that “all Lebanese shall be equal before the law. They shall equally enjoy civil and political rights and shall equally be bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction”. However, several problems surround this Article in terms of not securing any protection from gender-based violence and the absence of any law prohibiting child marriage.

Under personal status laws, women do not enjoy equal rights with men in marriage and divorce, and the guardianship of children remains in the hands of the man.

In 2017, Lebanon abolished Article 522 of the Penal Code that exempts the rapist from punishment if he marries his victim. This major legal step was a direct result of many national initiatives, the most recent of which was a nationwide advocacy campaign to remove existing discriminatory legal provisions related to Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code.

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

  1. Lebanon is a signatory to several international conventions, covenants and agreements that seek to protect and promote human rights and women’s rights, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Equal opportunities are provided in education for both sexes, as proven by the gender parity index. Also, the index averaged 0.932 for primary education enrolment, 1.00 for secondary education enrolment, and 1.00 for tertiary education enrolment for the same year.

  1. The law related to the reorganization of the Lebanese University number 75/67 had adopted the principle of democratic learning. It means that the higher education in Lebanon is available to all citizens and residents, and its means that the Lebanese University had adopted the principle of gender equality in its governance and administration and faculties, ensuring equal chance to everybody to be integrated in the higher education programs.

By reviewing the enrollment statistic at the Lebanese University, for the academic year 2018- 2019, we can see clearly the big number of females enrolled at the faculties, which is increasing gradually, and which encompasses sometimes the number of enrolled male (doc 46).

  1. The Lebanese University participates to Erasmus project CBHE entitled FREE, dedicated to the women empowerment, as well as human rights courses are taught in the major faculties and specializations.

  1. The Lebanese University established an agreement with the United Nations Fund on 20 December 2017 (doc 47) aiming to enhance capacities of the LU/ISS (Lebanese University-Institute of social sciences) for advocating, integrating and supporting the SDG agenda in the Lebanese context within its programs including research and teaching components.

This outcome will contribute not only to translating key SDG priorities into the Institute’s academic and research program but will also feed into the national plans and efforts for developing the SDG national strategy and reports. This will enable LU/ISS to take the lead as an academic institution in establishing a common approach and leveraging synergies with the rest of the actors both internally and externally.

  1. In 2016, the Office of the Minister of State for Women Affairs was established to support the advancement of gender equality and the empowerment of women in Lebanon, to be replaced in the 2019 government by the Ministry of State for Economic Empowerment of Women and Youth.

Despite all of the foregoing, there are to date legal, institutional and social obstacles that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights, including reservations on Article 9 of the CEDAW Convention regarding nationality and other paragraphs related to personal status laws.

In the Lebanese University, where the percentage of female professors exceeds 50% and the percentage of female students 70%, there are several initiatives, activities and agreements aimed at:

  • Providing women with the means to obtain decent work and secure income through quality education in the various LU faculties;

  • Ensuring good physical and psychological health through the services of the University Medical Center of the Faculty of Public Health;

  • Assisting to involve women in decision-making and commitments related to peace, security, rural, urban and economic development for Lebanon through initiatives, competitions and orientation lectures organized in the various LU faculties, centers and institutes;

  • Adopting SDG 5 by the Institute of Social Sciences.

  1. Centre MINE of the Lebanese University proposed a plan to empower women and break gender norms

Equality, enhancing trust, and developing the language of communication to build positive relationships in the societal environment and the workplace are all listed on the plan of the Lebanese University - Careers, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (Centre MINE) to contribute to strengthening the academic and professional role of women, complementing the ERASMUS+ program and FREE Project “Female Academic Role Model Empowerment, Equality and Sustainability at Universities in Mediterranean Region: towards 2030 Agenda” signed with the Lebanese University.

In order to implement the plan, Centre MINE will begin from criteria included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set by the United Nations, including the following points:

  • Develop a language of communication capable of building positive and supportive relationships in the workplace between men and women.

  • Identify and address the key gender equality issue, demonstrate confidence in challenging inequality and support colleagues.

  • Work on broad partnerships to provide leadership and support the change of harmful gender norms, policies and practices and improve gender equality.

  • Achieve full and productive employment opportunities and secure decent work for all women, men, youth and people with special needs.

  • Support entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of SMEs.

Because social norms and stereotypes were the barrier to the advancement of women and discrimination against them, Centre MINE will focus on the "change of norms", through projects, activities, jobs and women's opportunities strategies that include rights and skills in order to:

  • Empower academics and professional women through a series of training workshops to develop their capabilities.

  • Improve the management and operation of higher education by introducing equality and sustainability centers and services.

  • Develop research and innovation by supporting women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ideas.

  • Foster partnerships for broad-based and inclusive economic development, and encourage sustainable business and ideas for inclusive growth.

  • Provide integrated, quality, rights-based and gender-diverse services without discrimination.

  • Mainstream gender equality in all job opportunities announced by Center MINE and all fields and sectors.

  1. The Lebanese University – Centre MINE conducted a coordination meeting with FREE Project on "Empowering Women".

The Director of Lebanese University - Center of Profession, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Centre MINE), Dr. Riad Mekdessi met with the representative of the ERASMUS PLUS program, Dr. Mary Abou Jaoudeh on 5 February 2020, to discuss an implementation plan for the “FREE Project” that will include disseminating the objectives and ensuring sustainability through training courses and workshops.

The objectives of "FREE Project", which seeks a successful partnership with Center MINE, focuses on the academic role of women and the model of empowerment, equality and sustainability in the universities of the Mediterranean region in light of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

  1. "What’s Your Impact?” A youth entrepreneurship competition organized by Centre MINE at the Lebanese University.

The Center of Profession, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Centre MINE) at the Lebanese University launched the Youth Challenge “What’s Your Impact” on 22 May 2020, in a joint organization with “INCO - SPRINT Network” and in partnership with "Injaz Lebanon", the “US Agency for International Development” (USAID), “Smart ESA”, “Rural entrepreneurs” and the “French Development Agency” (AFD).

On 19 June 2020, the contestants met online with members of “SPRINT” network: Ralph Khairallah from “Carpolo”, Nisrine Al Turki from “IO TREE” and Omar Itani from “Fabricaid” and shared their experience in project management and development.

It is known that development, especially sustainable development, requires a hosting political environment based on democracy and human rights.

Lebanon's commitment to international conventions and its adoption of the 2030 Agenda has imposed work on more than a level to promote gender equality, among which the most important is to establish a Ministry of State for Women’s Affairs. However, any achievement related to this Ministry can only be achieved through a national strategy that the Lebanese University considers it should be based on the following objectives:

  • Adopt a policy to spread awareness about gender equality;

  • Support the fight against all forms of discrimination;

  • Support counseling campaigns on women and their rights;

  • Amend laws unfair to women and work to develop laws to protect them (inheritance, custody, marital rape, guardianship, etc.);

  • Establish centers equipped to protect battered women, to provide them with physical and psychological care;

  • Work to empower women economically;

  • Adjust school programs in line with gender equality;

  • Encourage and support scientific research that deals with gender in Lebanon;

  • Pass the "quota" law and encourage women to enter more broadly into the public sector and the world of politics;

  • Develop party and union laws to guarantee greater representation for women;

  • Support awareness campaigns on reproductive and sexual health;

  • Motivate the media to contribute to spread SDG 5 objectives and cover activities, initiatives and research related thereto;

  • Enhance cooperation and coordination between relevant ministries and departments and implement joint programs to achieve SDG 5.