Engagement in Activities to Express Views - Lebanon
Another way of gauging the civic participation of women is by looking different activities that women can take to express their opinions on political and social issues.
- The activities that women mostly do to express their opinions on social and political issues are protests or demonstrations and contacting public officials (at any level of government). As Figure 5 shows, 11% of women have reported taking part in a protest or demonstration over the past 12 months and 19% have done so longer ago. Of those who have not done so, 12% say they might take part in a protest in the future yet 58% say they would never do this. It is not surprising that a lot of women have taken part in a protest in the past given that Lebanon has witnessed numerous public rallies since the assassination of the former Pime Minster Rafic Hariri in February 2005 and subsequent political developments that were characterized by a strong polarization between opposition supporters and parliamentary majority supporters.
- Very few women, however, take part in other types of activities that perhaps require a higher level of individual initiative. Contributing to a blog or website is the least common and only 16% believe they will do that in the future. Similarly, only 5% of women have called in a radio or TV show to express their opinions in the past, but in contrast to contributing to a blog or website, three in 10 women believe they might call in to radio or TV show in the future. Women who are 18-24 are slightly more likely to have contributed to a blog or website than older women.
- Men are slightly more likely than women to have taken part in different activities to express their opinions. In particular, as Figure 6 shows, many more men (32%) than women (19%) have contacted or visited a public official over the past year or longer ago. Thirty-eight percent of men have taken part in one or more activities to express their views over the past year compared with a lower 24% of women.
- As Figure 7 shows, the 18-24 age group is the most active in taking part in activities to express opinions on political or social issues. Then, activism drops for the 25-34 age group, and starts picking up again as women get older, reaches a new peak for the 55-64 then drops to its lowest level for the 65+. This is different from the pattern of civic engagement seen in terms of membership in different organizations where the tendency to become members increases with age.
- Christian, Sunni and Druze women are much more likely to have taken part in activities to express their views over the past year (Figure 8). This could be directly related to the nature of the representative political parties of these groups. While Christians, Sunnis and Druze are organized and represented in parties with a generally secular outlook, the main Shia party is of a religious nature and calls for gender segregation.
- As seen with engagement in different organizations, activism in the form of taking part in different activities increases as education levels increase and and is higher for single women than it is for married women.