With the deterioration of the political situation in many countries of the Arab Region, the continuation of “The Most Decisive” in conflict zones, and the attempts of numbers of political regimes in the Arab Spring countries returning to the pre-revolutions with more backlashes on the democratic path, and the marginalization of women in the political dialogue in the countries of democratic transition, that would affect directly the feminist gains since the Arab Spring Revolutions in 2011, even if they were limited in regards with the inevitable feminist demands; hence the situation, generally, in the region has predicted with further regression and crisis on the feminist level, to require feminist’s mobilization from issuing statements and putting local feminist pressure towards the political engagement on the regional level through the formation of a feminist group that could be called "Feminist Crisis Group", generated from the concept of "Soft Track Two", to introduce initiatives that guarantee gender justice in zones of crises, conflicts and democratic transition within the region.
Accordingly, the Women Politicians Caucus in the Middle East and North Africa held several internal meetings between its members and several feminist figures in the Region. The Caucus agreed to work on moving to the political engagement level within the Region, starting with the Second Arab Spring countries (Sudan - Iraq – Lebanon – Algeria. In the first phase, these countries are witnessing the political, economic, and social levels and their impact on the women's status, considering the necessity of accelerating the agreement on a feminist initiative that helps to resolve the internal political crisis as well as ensure the presence of a feminist agenda. The caucus uses a tool of negotiations and potential open dialogues to address the national settlement process. The Caucus begins moving to the second phase, which includes the remaining countries in the Region.
The Caucus’ members agreed on an integrated name for the initiatives in all the countries to be “Towards Gender Justice”, each phase should include several visits to the same country until they achieve the desired goal.
Women Politicians Caucus adopted this vision in the Middle East and North Africa after being discussed by its members, forming a feminist delegation to meet feminist’s groups, civil political forces, civil society, and national syndicates. The start was in Lebanon, trying to communicate with local, regional, and international actors to discuss the women's status since the October 2019 mobilization.
First round of visits within the first phase, was conducted in Lebanon during August 2021, in the occasion of the explosion of Beirut Port - August 15, 2021, first anniversary in the presence of a delegation from the Caucus’ members: Ms. Rizan from Iraq, the Executive Secretary and Ms. Ahlam Belhaj from Tunisia, as a member, who conducted a series of meetings with the components of the civil and revolutionary movement in Lebanon as follows: (The Tishreen Movement/ October Movement - Lahqi Movement / To My Right Movement - Beirut My City Group - Towards a Homeland Group - Tishreen Revolution Group/October Revolution Group – in addition to many Lebanese civil society organizations and youth and feminist figures from the Popular Mobilization forces); where revolutionary political forces and civil society discussed their vision about women status two years after the October 2019 Revolution, the political situation impact on women in Lebanon, and the proposed feminist agenda to improve women status and present perceptions about women within the programs of revolutionary political movements and potential candidates for the Parliamentarian elections that will take place on May 15, 2022.
Second round of visits was conducted during the period from November 18, 2021 till November 21, 2021, to include meetings with traditional political forces among them ruling parties (Future Movement - Free Patriotic Movement - Seven Party - Forces Party - Kataeb Party/flange Party - National Bloc Party - Progressive Socialist Party - Arab Unification Party - Party 10452 - Lana Party/For Us Party - Amal Movement) and a woman representative of the Lebanese Parliament; where the political forces and political parties ideas about women status were discussed, whether on women’s representation in party structures level or the percentage of women in the upcoming Parliament May 2022 level , in addition to the political parties’ vision regarding women’s status in the public sphere and the impact of the political scene on women in Lebanon, and the proposed feminist agenda to improve women status and women representation within the programs of political parties and potential candidates for the Parliamentarian elections that will take place on May 15, 2022.
The third round of visits was in February 2022. The delegation formed with Ms. Rizan from Iraq, the Executive Secretary, and Ms. Mozn Hassan, the Coordinator and Thematic Advisor. They visited partisan and revolutionary political forces where the results of dialogues during the two preceding rounds emphasized mainstream the feminist perspectives in the parties’ and candidates’ programs during the Parliamentary Elections that will take place on May 15, 2022. This round included a meeting with several candidates, heads of parties, and political forces figures, among them: (Minister Ashraf Rifi - Minister Hassan Murad - Beirut Change List) in addition to the Arab Network for Election Monitoring in Lebanon) and followed by a press conference on March 30, 2022, launching a statement on the results and outcomes of the three rounds from August 2021 till February 2022.
The different political forces agreed on the following:
- Working on increasing women's representation in the next government
- Submitting a draft law that protects women from defamation and political harassment
Other points of the agenda several political forces agreed on and reticent by others, while numbers of parties, mobilization forces, and their representatives in the electoral lists pledged to work on:
- Submitting a draft law that guarantees the right to citizenship to the children of a Lebanese mother together with custody rights
- Submitting a draft law that decreases the voting age and the age of candidacy to 18 years
- Submitting a draft law that combats domestic violence
- Submitting a draft law that obligates the Lebanese State to have at least one woman on the electoral lists
- Increasing women’s representation in political offices and leadership positions within their parties and movements and supporting them in a way that guarantees fair representation for them and their issues.
The Women Politicians Caucus in the Middle East and North Africa Region will continue to work, with its partners from civil society and feminist movements inside Lebanon and in the region, to support women's issues in the Lebanese public sphere