Lebanon is not ranked in the 2012 SIGI due to missing data for one or more SIGI variables. However, the country note below sets out information and data relating to variables where this is available information.
Lebanon is ranked 71st in the 2011 Human Development Index with a score of 0.739. The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.440 placing Lebanon at 76 out of 146 countries. Lebanon is ranked 118th in the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index, with a score of 0.6083.
Currently in Lebanon, personal status laws that govern women’s rights within marriage and in relation to inheritance vary according religious affiliation: there are four different personal status codes covering Lebanese Muslims, while the six different Catholic denominations officially recognised in the country are covered by one personal status code, and there is another for Greek Orthodox Christians. For each sect, matters relating to personal status are determined by religious courts (Sharia in the case of Muslims and ecclesiastical in the case of Christians). Chemali Khalaf, writing in a 2010 report for Freedom House, is of the view that all of the personal status codes contain ‘systematic bias’ against women, resulting in discriminatory provisions. Elsewhere, Lebanon’s third periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) states that “whichever denomination she belongs to, a Lebanese woman is a victim of gender discrimination in her contact with the personal status laws”. Under pressure from women’s rights activists, lawmakers have attempted in the past to introduce a unified civil status code (most recently in 2009), but this has so far not met with success. According to a 2009 survey carried out by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) (hereafter IFES / IWPR), there is little support among women of all religious groups for the introduction of a civil marriage law that would remove much of this legal discrimination in Lebanon, with 64% opposing. 
The legal age of marriage varies amongst the different personal status codes, but two common features are evident: first, that women can generally marry at a younger age than men (with the exception of the Greek Orthodox Church); and second, that marriages can be authorised at even earlier ages. The recognised marriageable age for women ranges between 12.5 (for members of the Jewish faith) and 18 years, and between 17 (for Sunni Muslims) and 18 years for men. According to official statistics held by the UN, in 2004 5.3% of girls aged 15-19 were married, divorced, or widowed. Women and men are generally free to choose their own marriage partners, but the family usually expects to play a role. According to a survey carried out by IFES / IWPR in 2009, virtually all respondents felt that young women and men should be free to decide who to marry, but with guidance from their parents. Inter-religious marriages are also increasingly common in Lebanon, although officially, Muslim women do not have the right to marry non-Muslim men unless they convert, and other sects do not permit their members to marry outside the faith. In order to get around the sectarian personal status codes, Chemali Khalaf reports that some couples able to afford to do so opt to travel abroad to marry in civil ceremonies outside the country; such civil marriages are then recognised, and regulated, by the civil courts in Lebanon.
Polygamy is permissible only among Sunni and Shiite Muslims, following provisions in Sharia law. Muslim men from these sects are allowed to take up to four wives, provided they can support all wives financially and treat them all fairly and equally.
Although some personal status codes assign rights and duties equally to both spouses during married life (e.g. the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox personal codes), the Muslim personal codes designate the husband as the head of the family and assign parental authority to fathers. This arrangement appears to have some level of popular support: in a 2009 survey, 58% of men and 39% of women stated that a wife should obey her husband, even if she disagrees with him. Most personal status codes also name men as the rightful guardians, whereas women are merely custodians with few legal rights. Upon birth, children are assigned to the religious sect of their father. Women cannot confer citizenship to children born to a non-Lebanese father. This particularly affects women married to Palestinian refugees (of whom there are approximately 350,000 in Lebanon), whose children are then denied citizenship rights, including access to education and healthcare, and must obtain residency and work permits in order to live in Lebanon legally. There have been several campaigns in support of Lebanese women’s right to extend their nationality to their foreign spouses and children of that union, with a particular focus on the problems they face. The Minister of the Interior responded by issuing Decree 4186 in 2010 to accord foreign husbands and children of Lebanese women courtesy residency rights. (Women’s Learning Partnership (2009), “Interior Ministry to Issue Non-National Families Of Lebanese Women Unconditional Five-Year Residency Permits”) came into force two months later (http://www.learningpartnership.org/blog/2010/09/lebanon-decree4186-residency/)
In the event of divorce, all personal status codes initially grant child custody to the mother. In some cases, custody is transferred back to the father when children reach a certain age: for Evangelical Christian sects, this is 12 for boys and girls, for Catholics two, and for Sunni Muslims, 13 for boys and 15 for girls. That said, courts often grant ongoing physical custody to the mother beyond this, if they feel that this is in the child’s best interests. Most Christian denominations and Islamic Shia consider that divorced mothers who wish to remarry forfeit their custody rights. If the mother dies, or is absent for other reasons, the Sunni sect normally transfers custody to the closest female relative. Under the Muslim personal status codes, it is much easier for men than women to obtain a divorce, although all divorces must be registered with the court in order to be legally recognised. Men have the right to repudiate (divorce unilaterally) their wives, whereas women can only apply for a divorce under a certain set of conditions (e.g. the husband’s desertion, or illness) or forego their dowry and financial maintenance by obtaining a khula divorce. Catholic sects prohibit divorce, but marriages can be annulled for a wide range of reasons, including domestic violence.
Inheritance laws differ between Muslims and non-Muslims. Islamic law provides for detailed and complex calculations of inheritance shares. Muslim women may inherit from their fathers, mothers, husbands or children and, under, certain conditions, from other family members.  But their share is generally smaller than a man’s entitlement: daughters, for example, typically inherit half as much as sons.  In addition, Muslims cannot leave property to non-Muslims, meaning that non-Muslim women married to Muslim men cannot inherit from their husbands if they die first unless they convert. While women are legally entitled to inherit land, many women cede this land to their male relatives, in order to ensure that land is retained in the male line. It should be noted that the Shia approach to inheritance is more egalitarian as regards female heirs, which leads some Sunni fathers to convert to Shiism when they near death so that their daughters do not have to share their inheritance with their uncles if the parents have no sons.
The Civil Law of Inheritance (1959) for non-Muslims establishes that men and women shall be treated equally and receive the same shares of inheritance. In reality, some families take measures to ensure that male heirs receive more than female heirs.
 Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.249  CIA (2010); Freedom House (2010)  World Bank (n.d.)  CIA (2010)  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.257  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.251  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.252  United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.); Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.256  United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.)  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-a) p.2; Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.258  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.254  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.251, 258  CEDAW (2006) p.28  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.258  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-a) p.2  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.259; CEDAW (2006) pp.86-87  CEDAW (2006) p.87  United Nations Population Division / DESA (2008)  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.260  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-d) p.10  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.260; CEDAW (2006) p.88  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.259; CEDAW (2006) p.85  CEDAW (2006) p.95  CEDAW (2006) p.95  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.259, 261  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-d) p.12  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.261  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.259  Amnesty International (2010) p.206  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.252  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.261  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.261  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.261  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.262  CEDAW (2006) p.94  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.260; CEDAW (2006) p.95  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.260  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.261; CEDAW (2006) p.94  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.265  UN-HABITAT (2005) p.11; CEDAW (2006) p.96  UN-HABITAT (2005) p.11  UN-HABITAT (2005) p.11  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.265  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.265  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.265; CEDAW (2006) p.96  CEDAW (2006) p.97
There is currently no legislation in place protecting women from domestic violence, although as of November 2010, a draft law was under consideration that would allow domestic violence cases to be heard in closed courts, as well as enabling abused women to file for protection orders and for courts to force perpetrators to undergo rehabilitation. Awareness of violence against women, including domestic violence, has increased in recent years, thanks largely to efforts by local and regional NGOs. However, it is impossible to assess the prevalence of domestic violence in Lebanon, as levels of under-reporting remain high, with many women afraid to speak out about violence that they are experiencing at home, for fear of being blamed for the abuse, or of bringing shame on the family. In addition, social and family pressure, as well as lack of financial independence, compels many women to remain in abusive relationships, and they are sometimes instructed to return to abusive husbands by religious courts. Police are also reluctant to intervene in what is considered a taboo issue, unless a woman has formally pressed charges. The design and implementation of government policies in this area has also been rather poor, and as of 2010, there existed no competent authority responsible for dealing with domestic violence cases. Some limited support is however provided by NGOs, including hotlines and refuges, who do work in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice.
Rape is a criminal offence in Lebanon, with a minimum sentence of five years, but a rapist can escape prison if he agrees to marry his victim. It is not clear whether the victim’s consent is necessary in such circumstances. The law does not recognise spousal rape. There is also no law dealing specifically with sexual harassment.
So-called ‘honour’ killings do take place in Lebanon, although they are rarely prosecuted and are often reported as suicides, meaning it is very difficult to ascertain how many women die this way each year. Previously, under the Penal Code, perpetrators can receive a reduced sentence if they can demonstrate that they committed the crime after having discovered that the victim was engaged in socially unacceptable sexual relations. However, the Lebanese parliament voted in 2011 to strike Article 562 from the Penal Code, which had allowed mitigated punishment for honour crimes. There are also different provisions for women and men in the penal code relating to adultery (which is a criminal offence): for men, the act is only considered adulterous if it has taken place in the marital home or if the adulterous relationship is made public, while a woman can be convicted of adultery wherever the relationship has taken place. In addition, minimum sentencing options for women are higher than those for men in cases of adultery.
The parliament adopted a law on trafficking in persons in August 2011. While they usually enter the country legally, rather than being trafficked, female migrant domestic workers are said to be at particular risk of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their employers, and are afforded little protection under labour legislation.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not commonly practised in Lebanon.
Women are free to make independent decisions about their reproductive health, and to access contraception without consulting their husbands, although lack of access to affordable health insurance compromises the capacity of some women to access all forms of healthcare. Reproductive healthcare services are provided through primary healthcare clinics. According to UNFPA, 58% of sexually active women reported using some form of contraception, including so-called ‘traditional’ methods. Abortion is only legal in cases where the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.
 CEDAW (2006) p.97  Murdock (2010). Currently, domestic violence cases are heard in ordinary, open courts, which is a factor in discouraging women to file cases.  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.263  ECOSOC (2003) p.148; Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.263  ECOSOC (2003) p.148; Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.262; CEDAW (2006) p.97  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.262  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.262  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.263  ECOSOC (2003) p.148; Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.254  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.254  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.263, 267  ECOSOC (2003) p.148; Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.262  ECOSOC (2003) p.148; Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.253  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.253  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.253  Amnesty International (2010) p.206; ECOSOC (2003) p.148; Freedom House (2010); Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.267. See also Human Rights Watch (2010)  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.274  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.273, 274  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.273  UNFPA (2010) p.96 (no data source given).  UNDP (2007)
According to UNFPA, infant mortality rates are higher for boys than for girls. Gender-disaggregated data regarding immunisation rates is not available, but overall immunisation rates are high, according to UNICEF (between 95% and 99%, depending on the vaccine). Gross primary school enrolment rates are above 100% boys and girls, but at secondary level, more girls than boys are enrolled (boys 85%, girls 93%). According to a 2009 survey carried out by IFES / IWPR, 22% of women questioned cited family obligations or expectations as obstacles to educational aspiration and attainment, as opposed to 14% of men.
The figures above would indicate that Lebanon is not a country of concern in regard to son preference in early childhood care or access to education.
The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.96.
There is no evidence to suggest it is a country of concern in relation to missing women.
Women have the same rights as men to conclude contracts and own and administer property, including land. Within marriage, regardless of religious affiliation, each spouse has the right to own and administer property separately and independently. In practice, women are often heavily influenced by husbands and male family members in regard to the administration of property, as well as income and other financial assets. Patriarchal traditions may work against women in some aspects of ownership, but limitations more often arise from the fact that many women remain unaware of their economic and legal rights. This is particularly true in rural areas. Control over financial assets seems to be closely linked to education and employment status: according to a survey carried out in 2009 by IFES / IWPR, 28% of women who worked owned land or an apartment or house, compared to 19% of women who didn’t work, and as did 39% of women with a university education, compared to 26% who had secondary education.
Women are legally entitled to access to bank loans and can enter into financial contracts, but experience some limitations in practice. According to a survey carried out in 2009 by IFES / IWPR, 46% of married working women felt that they would be able to obtain a loan on their own, without help from a spouse or parent; levels varied considerably according to how much the woman earned, and her level of education. According to the 2006 CEDAW report, among an estimated 30 institutions lending to small-scale rural projects, only nine provide men and women with equal conditions. Moreover, women’s share of the loans from these nine credit institutions ranges between only 10 and 20 per cent. As of 2006, there were two organisations that lent exclusively to rural women, however data on the number and size of the loans are not available.
 Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.264; CEDAW (2006) p.83  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.264; CEDAW (2006) p.86  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.264  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-b) p.6  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-b) p.8  CEDAW (2006) p.78  CEDAW (2006) p.78  CEDAW (2006) p.78
There are no legal restrictions on freedom of movement for Lebanese women, and the law allows women to apply for passports without the permission of their husbands. In practice, the extent to which individual women can move freely outside the household or travel abroad often depends on their husbands and other family members. In rural areas, women’s freedom of movement may be restricted by their families, while in urban areas, some women have considerable freedom of movement (including going out at night without a male chaperon) and are able to live on their own.
Freedom of expression is respected in Lebanon, and there is a vibrant media scene. While there are some prominent female journalists in Lebanon, women for the most part remain under-represented in media structures, and representations of women in the media most typically portray women in gender-stereotypical ways. Rights to freedom of association and assembly are also generally respected. According to Freedom House, there is a vibrant civil society in Lebanon, and NGOs operate freely.
Women and men have the same right to vote and stand for election in Lebanon, but women remain under-represented in political life in Lebanon, and as of early 2011, there were only four women in the Lebanese national assembly (out of 128 – 3.1%). An attempt to introduce a 30% gender quota as part of the 2008 electoral law failed. According to a 2009 survey carried out by IFES / IWPR, most women (67%) and men (65%) were in favour of the introduction of a gender quota in the national assembly. Of those against, the most common reason cited (50%) was that quotas are unfair and against the principle of equal opportunity, although 18% believed that ‘women have no place in politics’. In addition, the majority of respondents, male and female, supported the idea of women standing for political office, and felt that women were perfectly capable of making their own decisions about who to vote for in elections. There is positive progress for women’s participation at a municipal level - 531 women were elected to local councils in 2009, more than double the number in 2004 while and 57 women in 2009 were elected as mayor.
That said, overall, most men and women believed men made better political and business leaders than women. In contrast to the small numbers of women active in the formal political sphere, Lebanon has long had a vocal and active women’s movement. Women’s rights activists have lobbied and demonstrated in support of changes to the nationality law (which does not allow women to pass citizenship onto their children) and the penal code, for the removal of other discriminatory legal provisions, for the introduction of legislation to protect women from domestic violence, and for improvements to women’s economic opportunities. There is also a large number of women active in the judiciary: according to Chemali Khalaf, women hold 38% of civil, commercial, and criminal court judgeships.
Pregnant women are entitled to seven weeks’ paid maternity leave. In 2001, legislation was introduced ensuring equal pay for women in Lebanon. The workforce participation rate for women is 24.1% compared to 74.8% for men. There also appears to be a significant wage gap between men and women, more pronounced in the private sector.
 Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.258  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.258, 274  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.258  Freedom House (2010)  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.275  Freedom House (2010)  Freedom House (2010)  Freedom House (2010); Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.); Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.269  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.270  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-a)  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-d) pp.2, 5  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-d) p.7  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.249-250  Chemali Khalaf (2010) pp.251, 256-257, 268  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.255  ILO (2009)  ECOSOC (2003) p.148  IFES / IWPR (n.d.-c) p.7
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire and then a French colony, Lebanon gained independence in 1943. The country experienced 15 years of civil war (1975-1990), and since then, the ongoing political and security situation has remained volatile. Lebanon is classed as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank. The country’s economy and infrastructure were severely damaged by the civil war, and by the more recent (2006) conflict involving Israel. Most of the population are either Muslim or Christian; within both these categories there are a large number of different sects, of which 18 are officially recognised.
Despite a relatively liberal legal framework, high levels of female education, and an active women’s movement, women in Lebanon face discrimination in their legal rights, protection from violence, and low visibility in employment and public life. Discriminatory social norms that restrict women’s de facto rights to be active in the public sphere are in part to blame, as is the ongoing lack of security and political instability.
Article 8 of the Lebanese Constitution asserts the equality of rights and duties of all citizens, regardless of gender, and in contrast to neighbouring countries, Sharia law is not held up as the main source of legislation. Lebanon ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1997 with reservations to Article 9(2), regarding nationality; several subparagraphs of Article 16(1), related to personal status laws; and Article 29(1), on the settlement of disputes. Lebanon has published CEDAW in the official Gazette, giving it primacy over national laws, one of the few Arab countries to do so. The country has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol.
 Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.249  CIA (2010); Freedom House (2010)  World Bank (n.d.)  CIA (2010)  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.257  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.251  Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.252  United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.); Chemali Khalaf (2010) p.256  United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.)
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