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Lebanese Mothers: Missing Their Babies

Lebanon currently has one of the shortest maternity leave periods in the world, offering only 49 days off work for new mothers. (Photo: Marwan Bu Haidar)

By: Chloe Benoist

Published Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A draft law addressing maternity leave is set to be presented in the upcoming fall Parliamentary session, aiming to lengthen time off work for new mothers. However, mothers, doctors and activists are saying it’s still not enough.

Lebanon currently has one of the shortest maternity leave periods in the world, offering only 49 days off work for new mothers. This embarrassing record is beaten only by Bahrain and the UAE, who both allow 45 days of recuperation after childbirth. A current draft law to increase the maternity leave to ten weeks is set to be presented in front of the Parliament in the upcoming months. However, it still falls short of the minimum 14 weeks recommended by the International Labor Organization.

The proposal, presented by MPs Gilberte Zwein of the Free Patriotic Movement and Michel Moussa of the Amal Movement Parliamentary Bloc, has already been approved by the Women and Children Committee, the Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs Committee and the Justice and Administration Commission. The proposal was also given the green light by Prime Minister Najib Mikati in April. For Moussa, the draft law represents “an acceptable step forward for both mothers and employers.”

But what might seem an acceptable compromise for politicians is far from sufficient for those directly affected by the law. For Jinane Khashouf, a 31-year-old human resources consultant and creator of a blog entitled Lebanese Working Moms, it was a struggle to conciliate work with the responsibility of caring for a newborn.

 

 

Khashouf said she was “lucky” that her now five-year old daughter was born in the summer while she was working as a teacher, hence giving her two and a half months off. However, she only had the seven-week long maternity leave after the birth of her son two years ago.

“It was not enough,” she said. “You want to go back to your daily life, but you are not ready: you are still breastfeeding, the baby is awake most of the time, but the show must go on.” Khashouf added that if it hadn’t been for her mother being able to take care of her youngest child while she was in the office, she would simply have chosen not to have a second child.

The pressure of balancing a career with motherhood is heightened by the fear of many women that they will be replaced at work, and this despite the existing law which prohibits the firing or women who are pregnant or on maternity leaves. “The law might say many things, but it is not always respected,” Khashouf said, noting that she knows of several women who were unlawfully dismissed from their jobs during or right after their pregnancy.

While hailing the draft proposal as progress, obstetrician Souha Nasreddine emphasized the need to aim higher, citing the negative health concerns a short maternity leave might entail.

“Having time off work to care for your newborn is not a benefit, it’s a need,” she stressed. She recommended a minimum of three months off, while noting that it is highly preferable for mothers to breastfeed until the age of six months. Unfortunately, working hours and a persistent taboo concerning breast pumps at work has meant that many mothers have had to stop breastfeeding their children much earlier than they would have liked.

 

 

According to Nasreddine, forcing mothers to get back to work so quickly also has a psychological effect on the newborn child. “The bonding during the first six months of a baby’s life is important for personality building,” she said, estimating that children separated too early from their mothers have a tendency to be more agitated, anxious and insecure.

The slow pace of reform also has some activists worried that Lebanon will continue to lag behind on international rights standards for decades. The former president of the League for Lebanese Women’s Rights, Linda Matar, recalled the last time the maternity leave law was updated twelve years ago, when private sector employees were granted nine extra days, finally on par with their public sector counterparts’ 49 days off. “It made no sense,” Matar said, referring to the old status quo. “Childbirth is the same, regardless of your place of employment.”

Additionally, while employers could previously legally fire women before their fifth month of pregnancy, women have been fully protected from termination of employment during the entire duration of their pregnancy and subsequent time off since 2000 – at least, according to the law.

Although they recognize the limitations of the current draft law, those who contributed to it highlighted the fact that this proposal represents the best possible outcome of negotiations between the feminist movement and economic actors. Rita Chemaly, a blogger and activist who also works at the National Commission for Lebanese Women, noted that while the commission initially hoped for a 12-week maternity leave, there was resistance from employers against extending the leave so dramatically.

 

 

However, Chemaly said she was hopeful. “I feel pretty confident that this law will pass,” she said. “This is not a polarizing subject. It transcends communitarianism and will benefit all women.” The fact that the proposal has already been approved by three parliamentary commissions strengthened her belief.

While Moussa shared Chemaly’s optimism about the proposal’s potential to pass, he did have a word of caution. “There is a chance that the current political tensions could negatively affect the outcome of the vote,” he noted. “We will have to see how the discussions go.”

For Matar, the relegation of this law to the backburner wouldn’t be anything new. She has been advocating for around sixty years trying to improve conditions for women in the country, and said that time and time again, progress is stifled by political paralysis.

“We are always told ‘now is not the time,’ whether we are at peace or at war,” she said. “Well, if not now, when? Women’s issues are always forgotten because they are not supported by the government.”

But more importantly than legal change, many agreed that Lebanon needs a drastic change in mentality regarding its perception of working mothers. For many women, being a stay-at-home mom is no longer an option the way it was a generation or two ago.

 

 

“Many women work because they have to work – otherwise they would simply switch to part-time jobs,” Khashouf said. “Quitting your job also means losing a huge part of your identity. We need to find options that work for everyone.”

Zeina Ibrahim, an office manager, agreed. “Working mothers have a lot of pressure in our society,” she said. “There is that expectation that you should give up your job, and that you are a bad mother if you don’t.”

Ibrahim changed jobs after giving birth to her son because of the long hours at her previous place of work, which made it impossible for her to be there for her child. Yet, she never considered giving up working altogether, knowing it would be very hard to find work again.

Another factor often cited as making life more difficult for working mothers is the lack of involvement of fathers in day-to-day childcare. For Chemaly, a paternity leave would be a great step for families to bond, “but there must be a change of mentality. People need to stop thinking it is a shame for a man to change a diaper before we can even think of passing a law.”

Nasreddine summarized the imperative to keep aiming higher and not relegate mothers’ rights as “simply” a women’s issue: “Working mothers need real support, and it’s not only for them, it’s for the whole society. Everybody needs to remember that they are not doing this simply for their own benefit; they are raising the country’s next generation.”

soruce: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/lebanese-mothers-missing-their-babies

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Apres l’accord donné par la Commission des femmes et de l’enfance, une deuxieme commission parlementaire a donne son accord a l’amendement des articles 28-29 du Code du travail libanais et l’article 38 de celui des fonctionnaires. c’est La Commission de la  Justice et de l’Administration, presidee par le Depute Robert Ghanem….

Le but de l’amendement est de prolonger le Conge maternite de 7 a 10 semaines.

un ptit pas pour avancer les droits des femmes, dans l’attente de la ratification finale dans l’assemblee pleiniere et des 12 semaines stipulees dans les conventions internationales (ILO) et d’un conge paternite qui donnerait un role au papa dans l’education des enfants….

rita Chemaly

رفعت لجنة الادارة والعدل اجازة الامومة الى عشرة اسابيع خلال جلسة ترأسها امس النائب روبير غانم.
ومعلوم ان الاجازة كانت محددة بسبعة أسابيع، وقال غانم انه “تمّ تعديل المادتين 28 و29 من قانون العمل والمادة 38 من المرسوم الاشتراعي المتعلق بالموظفين، بحيث تكون هذه الاجازة سارية على الجميع”.

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plusieurs sites internet gouvernementaux sont pirates ce matin, par un parti qui se nomme “Raise Your Voice”  ,

Dont le site de la présidence libanaise, du ministère de la justice, des douanes,….

les pirates ont promis de continuer de pirater les sites du gouvernement, tant que celui ci ne s’attache pas a défendre les droits des citoyens….

a vous la capture d’écran prise d’un des sites pirates!

Rita Chemaly

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for all those who want to work legally in Beirut, here are the steps to follow, as my dad has a compagny, I am also helping him in the financial accounting part, so each year we have to go get papers ( formal forms to fill) and by Liban post, posting them to the ministry of finance, and here how we can work legally in leb! the great post is from This is Beirut, Rita!

This is Beirut

For starters, you will need to get your tax identification number to avoid a 7.5% fee on your earnings (if the company you are working for takes their accounting seriously). Yes, you do have options to do things under the table (this is Lebanon after all!), but if you are serious about being able to grow your services into a full-fledged business (like me), you will need to do things the right way.

I recently went to get my tax identification number so that I can start doing some contract work in my field of Web Development and Agile Consulting. I worked as a consultant for 3 years in the US as part of a small consultancy called OpenSource Connections, before starting work on Jogabo (you can take a look at my past experiences here). But now that I am in Lebanon, I am starting to give workshops (eg.

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نرى أنفسنا كمجموعة نسوية جزء لا يتجزأ من كل حراك مدني ومستقل عن أطراف السلطة، خاصة وإن حمل هذا الحراك شعارات نراها من مبادئنا الأساسية والتي نناضل من أجلها كالمساواة، العلمانية والعدالة الاجتماعية. لقد آن الأوان لكي نتحرك كمواطنين ومواطنات، وكعاملين وعاملات حرمنا لسنوات طوال من أبسط حقوقنا الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية. على الرغم من ذلك، لطالما كان لدينا كامل الإدراك أن السلطة الذكورية مترسخة بالنظام الطائفي الذي يغذيها فنتعرض لاضطهاد مزدوج على الأصعدة السياسية الاجتماعية والاقتصادية لأننا أولاً نساء، وثانيًا لأننا رعايا لا مواطنات، ولأننا عاملات نُحرم من أبسط حقوقنا الاقتصادية. ولأن النظام الطائفي الذكوري يسخر نفسه لأصحاب المال، يقصينا من مواقع القرار، فيمنع بالتالي أن يكون لدينا المقدرة على التصرف بمواردنا ويحرمنا الأمن والأمان داخل المنزل وخارجه. لذلك كما اتخذنا الشارع في 14 كانون الثاني لنرفض الاغتصاب الذي يشرعه ويسهله النظام الذي نعيش في ظله، سننزل إلى الشارع لندعو إلى نظام يحمينا كنساء، كمواطنات وكعاملات. ولنا أن نتذكر في هذا المجال أن لا عدالة ممكنة لنا كنساء خاصة، من دون قوانين مدنية موحدة لجميع المواطنين وعدالة اجتماعية تضمن لنا خدمات صحية، وأجور عادلة وضرائب عادلة وغيره. نريد كمواطنات أولا وكنساء ثانياً أن نرى التغيير في بنية هذا النظام لصالح قوانين مدنية موحدة للجميع من أحوال شخصية إلى زواج وانتخاب وغيره. نريد أن يكون لنا حقوق متساوية للرجل في مختلف الميادين، في الأسرة والمجتمع، في السياسة وسوق العمل. وأخيراً نريد أن نضم صوتنا إلى أصوات النساء العربيات من المحيط إلى الخليج لنهتف سويا “حرية” و”عدالة اجتماعية”. لنستعيد الشوارع في ذكرى الصرخة الأولى ضد النظام الطائفي التي انطلقت السنة الماضية من أجل المساواة، العلمانية والعدالة الاجتماعية. لننضم إلى التحرك يوم 26 شباط 2012 عند الساعة 3:00 من بعد الظهر انطلاقا من الدورة وصولا إلى شركة الكهرباءنرى أنفسنا كمجموعة نسوية جزء لا يتجزأ من كل حراك مدني ومستقل عن أطراف السلطة، خاصة وإن حمل هذا الحراك شعارات نراها من مبادئنا الأساسية والتي نناضل من أجلها كالمساواة، العلمانية والعدالة الاجتماعية. لقد آن الأوان لكي نتحرك كمواطنين ومواطنات، وكعاملين وعاملات حرمنا لسنوات طوال من أبسط حقوقنا الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية. على الرغم من ذلك، لطالما كان لدينا كامل الإدراك أن السلطة الذكورية مترسخة بالنظام الطائفي الذي يغذيها فنتعرض لاضطهاد مزدوج على الأصعدة السياسية الاجتماعية والاقتصادية لأننا أولاً نساء، وثانيًا لأننا رعايا لا مواطنات، ولأننا عاملات نُحرم من أبسط حقوقنا الاقتصادية. ولأن النظام الطائفي الذكوري يسخر نفسه لأصحاب المال، يقصينا من مواقع القرار، فيمنع بالتالي أن يكون لدينا المقدرة على التصرف بمواردنا ويحرمنا الأمن والأمان داخل المنزل وخارجه. لذلك كما اتخذنا الشارع في 14 كانون الثاني لنرفض الاغتصاب الذي يشرعه ويسهله النظام الذي نعيش في ظله، سننزل إلى الشارع لندعو إلى نظام يحمينا كنساء، كمواطنات وكعاملات. ولنا أن نتذكر في هذا المجال أن لا عدالة ممكنة لنا كنساء خاصة، من دون قوانين مدنية موحدة لجميع المواطنين وعدالة اجتماعية تضمن لنا خدمات صحية، وأجور عادلة وضرائب عادلة وغيره. نريد كمواطنات أولا وكنساء ثانياً أن نرى التغيير في بنية هذا النظام لصالح قوانين مدنية موحدة للجميع من أحوال شخصية إلى زواج وانتخاب وغيره. نريد أن يكون لنا حقوق متساوية للرجل في مختلف الميادين، في الأسرة والمجتمع، في السياسة وسوق العمل. وأخيراً نريد أن نضم صوتنا إلى أصوات النساء العربيات من المحيط إلى الخليج لنهتف سويا “حرية” و”عدالة اجتماعية”. لنستعيد الشوارع في ذكرى الصرخة الأولى ضد النظام الطائفي التي انطلقت السنة الماضية من أجل المساواة، العلمانية والعدالة الاجتماعية. لننضم إلى التحرك يوم 26 شباط 2012 عند الساعة 3:00 من بعد الظهر انطلاقا من الدورة وصولا إلى شركة الكهرباء

For more information visit Nasawiya’s page.

Laicite, egalite, justice sociale

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Hakki met…. Do you know hakki?

A handful of  protesters, met today at noon thirty in front of the general directorate of the Lebanese ministry of health…. they were chanting: “Hakki met hakki met… ala bweb el mestachfetyet“…

Protest in of the General directorate of the Ministry of Health in Lebanon ( old building on the left)

The general directorate is an old building near the Lebanese university, and the Museum square;  The offices can easily get unnoticed, there are just 2 small signs on the balcony of the directorate;

The protesters are those who prepared the “hakki 3layi” campaign, my colleagues of CRTD.A joined them, especially the ACGEN team ( the one who launched the campaign for health and education for all);

The protestors voiced out their frustration with the health care system in Lebanon : there is No health care system in Lebanon;

“Hakki met hakki met”…. 3ala bweb el moustachfayet”  Hakki is the arabic word of my right, and the protesters were chanting : ” my right is dead my right is dead… at the doors of hospitals”

The protesters chanted their demands, while standing near the “dummy” dead skeleton of Lebanese people who died because they were not allowed to be hospitalized ;

Protesters demanding a complete health strategy covering all lebanese

Yes, in Lebanon if an individual doesn’t have a proper health private insurance, or is rich enough to pay the hospitalization fees, it is very difficult to be admitted in the urgency;

As the slogans shows: the protesters highlighted the importance of health, the problem that many Lebanese have: they are indebted because of the health services they want; or they go to their political leader, and ask him ( usually he is a him) for a recommendation, and that causes the problem of “clientelism” in Lebanon;

One of the slogans that caught my eye was: your political leader is not your doctor…

za3imak mannou tabibak... Your political leader is not your doctor

The demands of the protesters were clear: the economical situation Lebanon is witnessing, is because of years of bad economical policies and strategies;

The protesters distributed a pamphlet were they explain that is it unacceptable to have more than 50% of Lebanese citizens without free health care, and it is unacceptable to have people dying because they were not admitted in the Lebanese hospitals ….

Lebanese people are not begging, they Want their rights!…

The minister of health Ali Hajj Hassan came down, and addressed the protesters,

He highlighted the fact that their demands are legitimate, and the Health should be a Right to all,

when the protesters said that they don’t have faith and confidence in him, and he is taking too much time to finish his health strategy,

he answered that with the governemnt, he was searching on how he can make sure that the taxation system can be more fair, how he can cover up the health expenses,

and he promised them to work asap on finishing the strategy for a health care for all, and submit it to the parliament for voting,

Lebanese health minister ALi hajj hassan hearing the protesters demands

Minister Ali Hajj Hassan addressing the protesters and promising to finish the policy offering free health care to all Lebanese

while waiting for the policy to change,

I hope that the Lebanese people take good care of themselves, specially with the bad weather Lebanon is witnessing,  they shouldn’t be sick, sickness is expensive in Lebanon, Very expensive.

Rita a Lebanese citizen, that is not insured, and hoping that the state of law will cover her or her family sicknesses ( la samaha allah)!

some pictures taken during the event:

One of the protesters adressing the people on the balcony of the ministry of health, asking them to come down and hear the screams of the lebanese

I don't have social security... I am an irregular worker

Minister Ali Hajj Hassan addressing the protesters

Demands of the collective action " a minute of death" in front of the ministry of health in lebanon

gathered around the skeleton representing lebanese who died because of the lack of health care

The money is spent for clientelism....

Collective action: skeleton on the side walks of the lebanese roads

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Below are 3 articles covering the progress made in UAE: children of women married to foreigner can now ask for the nationality of their mothers;

this step is needed in Lebanon: Lebanese women married to no-lebanese, cannot transmit their nationality to their families.

With the actual law, Lebanon is not complying to his Constitution, or ratified international docs!

treating lebanese women and their families as citizens,  is a need to fulfill equality and to build a State of Law …

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/nations/emirates/2011/12/01/visualizza_new.html_11297151.html
DOHA, DECEMBER 1 – Progress has been made in the field of equal rights for men and women in the United Arab Emirates. From now on, the children of female citizens of the UAE married to foreigners will be able to acquire their mothers’ nationality, due to a law recently approved by the federation.

According to the new law, at age 18 the children of an UAE mother and a foreign father can request their mother’s nationality as well as enjoy the same rights of UAE citizens even before reaching the required age for the official request.

So reports The Peninsula, a daily paper in Qatar, where this equal right has not yet been recognised but on which a wide-ranging debate has begun. ”I would like all Gulf countries, including Qatar, to establish a law like that of the UAE,” said Moza Al Malki, Qatari psychologist cited by the newspaper. The extension to mothers of the right to hand down their nationality to their children, as well as giving more rights to women, makes it possible to increase the number of citizens of the countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who are still a minority compared with the foreign community. In Qatar, for example, Qatar nationals total only 20% of the overall population, compared with 80% of foreigners without the chance for naturalisation. According to Sheikha Al Jefairi, the sole female member of Qatar’s Central Municipal Council, the country has a law which recognises the same rights to the children of Qatari women married to foreigners, but not the right to hold a Qatari passport. But however close the Qatari law comes to that of the UAE, it is not applied. ”I urge the authorities appointed by the Emit to take measures on the issue, ensuring that this law is enforced and that it has immediate binding effects,” said Al Jefairi. Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee has also taken a position on the issue and is putting pressure on the government. (ANSAmed).

UAE decision on nationality law highlights need for new approach
As the United Arab Emirates became the eighth Arab state to grant equal nationality rights to women Wednesday, campaigners in Lebanon warn the domestic struggle still has some way to go.

Currently, Lebanese women who marry foreigners can’t pass their nationality onto their children, unlike Lebanese men. Activists have been campaigning on the issue for years, having first presented a draft law to Parliament in 2005.

Ghida Anani, founder and director of Abaad, a Beirut-based regional gender research center, said the UAE decision might give some encouragement to other Arab countries, but that Lebanon was a very different scenario.

“Here we have the issue of the Palestinians, of confessionalism, and of quotas,” said Anani.

Many believe the introduction of the law would lead to the naturalization of Palestinian refugees married to Lebanese women, however a U.N. study showed in 2010 that only 18,000 Lebanese women had married non-Lebanese men between 1995 and 2008.

The campaign in Lebanon, Anani believes, needs a fresh approach.

“The campaign is losing momentum. I sense there is frustration and activists are not pushing hard enough on decision-makers.

“We need new and concrete arguments,” Anani added. “Politicians must be lobbied.”

Metn MP Ghassan Moukheiber, a member of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee who has publicly supported the nationality campaign for years, agrees that the struggle needs a new angle.

“We must find a solution to this problem, but this will only happen if we have a dialogue which addresses the concerns and fears of the people and the parliamentarians,” he said.

“We need to sit down with the key players and conduct straight talk about how we can improve the lives of Lebanese women,” he said. “We need to discuss the problems that no one wants to talk about publicly.”

Lina Abou Habib, executive director of the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action, a Beirut-based regional gender equality center, sees encouragement in September’s decision by Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas to grant the right to work to the non-Lebanese spouses and children of Lebanese women.

CRTD is continuing to lobby MPs to study the draft law and is also conducting an extensive study on the daily ramifications that the absence of such a law has on the lives of Lebanese women.

The center is also encouraging Lebanese women to “be more vocal in demanding their rights. To consider what are the potentials and possibilities of active citizenship,” Habib said.

“I do believe there are solutions to these problems,” Moukheiber said, “We just need to find them.”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2011/Dec-02/155801-uae-decision-on-nationality-law-highlights-need-for-new-approach.ashx#ixzz1fMzpmQ8C
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

(AFP) – 1 day ago

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday that children of Emirati women married to foreigners could apply for citizenship once they turned 18, moving closer to giving women the same nationality rights as men.

President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan decreed that the “children of women citizens married to foreigners should be treated as citizens,” WAM state news agency reported.

In the move, the children are to get the “right to apply for citizenship when they reach 18,” it added.

Most Arab countries link nationality to blood relation from the father’s side, disenfranchising women who face various forms of gender discrimination across the region.

Tunisia had for a long time been the only country that gave men and women equal nationality rights with few other countries responding to continued campaigns for the regulation to be changed.

But in 2005, Algeria amended its nationality law, giving women the right to pass citizenship to their foreign husbands and children.

In 2007, Morocco said the children of Moroccan women will automatically get the nationality, while foreign husbands can demand the citizenship after five years of marriage and residency in the country.

Egypt followed suit giving women the right to pass their citizenship to their children.

The campaign continues in many other Arab countries…

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