Lebanese women hail first female Arab interior minister
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon has appointed the Arab world's first female interior minister in its new government, prising open a wider foothold for women in its overwhelmingly male political scene. Raya al-Hassan is one of four women to take cabinet jobs in the new coalition, more than ever before in Lebanon and three more than in the last government, in which even the minister for women was a man. Though Hassan has already held top jobs - including finance minister in 2009-2011 - her appointment to a portfolio managing security was hailed as a step forward for women in Lebanese politics
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon has appointed the Arab world's first female interior minister in its new government, prising open a wider foothold for women in its overwhelmingly male political scene.
Raya al-Hassan is one of four women to take cabinet jobs in the new coalition, more than ever before in Lebanon and three more than in the last government, in which even the minister for women was a man.
Though Hassan has already held top jobs - including finance minister in 2009-2011 - her appointment to a portfolio managing security was hailed as a step forward for women in Lebanese politics.
"This is a point of pride for all women and all the people who believe in women's capabilities," Hassan said.
"There are a lot of female interior and defence ministers in the world and they have proved their efficiency. It might be a new phenomenon for Lebanon and Arab countries, but hopefully it will be repeated and not be unique," she added.
The three other women in the 30-strong cabinet are in charge of energy, administrative development and the economic empowerment of women and young people.
Though Lebanon is widely held to be liberal by regional standards, with women playing a prominent role in public life, some of its laws continue to uphold a patriarchal social code.
Much Lebanese civil law, including personal status matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance, is applied according to religious sect and in some cases treats women differently to men. Lebanon has 17 recognised Muslim and Christian sects.
"OLD MALE PATRIARCHAL MIND"
In 2017 the parliament abolished an old law that absolved rapists if they married their victims. But marital rape and child marriage are still legal.
"You can't keep up with the international community and say you have a civilised state when all the world is working on gender equality and Lebanon is still living with the old male patriarchal mind," said May Chidiac, the new administrative development minister.
Lebanese politics continues to revolve around men. The complex sectarian power-sharing system has helped entrench former warlords and the scions of political dynasties - all male - who dominate the government and the parliament.
"Lebanon is a male-dominated society and though women reached very important positions, when we talk about politics, especially parliament and government, their presence was modest," said the women and youth minister Violette Safadi.
"I think we broke this barrier."
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Angus McDowall)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.