Raya Al-Hassan is one of four women taking cabinet jobs in the new Lebanese government. This appointment will make her the Arab world’s first female interior minister. The new cabinet comprises of four women and 26 men and will have three more women ministers than the last government, in which even the minister for women was a man. Al Hassan said that her appointment is a “unique experience that needs to be mainstreamed and generalised in other countries in the region.”

Al Hassan worked in the economy ministry from 2000 to 2003 with the then minister Basil Fleihan, who was killed in 2005 in one of a string of political assassinations that rocked Lebanon at the time. In 2005, she moved to the prime minister’s office, before becoming finance minister in 2009, which was also a first for a woman in the Arab world.

Though Hassan has already held top jobs. This appointment has strengthened the foothold of women in this male-dominated political and social scenario. 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.

This appointment has strengthened the foothold of women in this male-dominated political and social scenario.

Hassan said, “This is a point of pride for all women and all the people who believe in women’s capabilities.” She further added, “There are a lot of female interior and defense 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.”

“I’m very proud I was appointed the minister of interior. Because I’m the first woman, I need to act as a role model and prove that women in positions that are usually held by men can do the job as well, if not better, than men,” she told The National in a phone interview.

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.

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Sonakshi Goel is an intern with ShethePeople.TV

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