CIC National Capital (Ottawa): Lebanon: Refugee Women, NGOs, and Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Please join us at the next event of the CIC National Capital Branch’s Middle East Study Group (MESG), being held in honour of International Women’s Day Overview: How do we, as Westerners, think of women in the Middle East? Do we imagine mysterious figures, shrouded in black robes? Do we picture Disney’s Princess Jasmine? Or do we simply assume they are in need of saving and liberation from their oppressive and patriarchal cultures? Like all stereotypes, these imaginings are not only reductionist and problematic, but they transform Middle Eastern women into objects. Yet, Middle Eastern women – as with women everywhere – are economically and politically active agents, working tirelessly to improve their lives and societies – on their own terms. Indeed, the region is home to many women-led, feminist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide educational and vocational/leadership training. Amongst the Middle East’s very diverse countries, Lebanon stands out as an important example. Lebanon is one country that, as a result of regional conflicts, houses three different nationalities: Lebanese, Palestinians, and more recently, Syrians. Lebanese law, further, disempowers refugees relative to Lebanese citizens, in the form of very serious bureaucratic obstacles, such as work permits and the complete ban of their employment in numerous professions (law, medicine, engineering). These barriers have forced Lebanon’s refugee populations to seek employment in the black labor market. As an already marginalized portion of marginalized populations, refugee...

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