Press release: Launch of UN Women’s policy Brief on Gender-Responsive Recovery in Lebanon

Date: Sunday, July 19, 2020

Beirut, 13 July 2020 - In Lebanon, a forthcoming UN Women study finds that the effect of the current economic contraction on women’s overall employment in Lebanon is estimated to result in a 14-19% reduction in women’s employment. In a country where the rate of women’s labour market participation stands at 29%, this estimate is of significant concern.

UN Women’s new policy brief, Gender-Responsive Recovery in Lebanon: Recommendations for Fiscal, Social and Labour Policy Reform, looks at reform measures that can be taken to mitigate the loss of women from the economy. In this examination it calls for:

  • Investment in the reform and financing of Lebanon’s social protection systems, prioritize addressing gender discrimination that persists within Lebanon’s social protection instruments and laws; promote progressive taxation to expand Lebanon’s tax base and expand social protection;
  • The ring-fencing of spending on health and education - commit to refraining from austerity within these sectors;
  • Support for a comprehensive pension scheme that combines a better contributory system with a non-contributory tax financed social pension component to provide robust social protection for the elderly. In the short term, to address losses to current and soon-to-be retirees as a result of the economic collapse, the elderly should be included in social assistance programmes currently being devised;
  • The extension of paid maternity leave and introduce paid paternity leave; introduce a maternity insurance scheme funded through the National Social Security Fund, to decrease incentives for employers to prioritise the hiring of men;
  • The reform the Kafala system to promote greater protections of domestic workers in the economy; and,
  • Incentives to be passed for the formalisation of the economy, thereby supporting an expansion of Lebanon’s tax base and enhancing women’s entry and retention in the labour market, with an initial focus on female micro-enterprise owners and making support for micro enterprises could be conditional on non-discrimination in employment.

“Women in Lebanon represent a healthy and well-educated population that must be engaged for recovery. The realization of women’s economic rights not only advances the country’s economy but also ensures it is built on equity and utilizes the potential of all citizens”, said Rachel Dore-Weeks, UN Women Lebanon’s Head of Office