The issues surveyed include: gender norms and women’s empowerment; gender-based violence; household decision-making; fatherhood, domestic chores, and caregiving; health and well-being; and more. Equally important, IMAGES MENA provides women’s perspectives on these same issues.
The study reveals that there is a relatively positive attitude towards gender equality, with women consistently showing more equitable attitudes than men. When participants were asked about their attitudes towards women’s participation in leadership positions, men were most likely to express support for women as heads of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and least likely to express support for women as religious leaders, heads of political parties, heads of states, and military officers.
The study in Lebanon highlights that more than half of women reported having experienced sexual harassment in public spaces at some point in their lives, and one-third of men reported having ever carried out this harassment. Men with inequitable gender attitudes and childhood experiences of violence were significantly more likely to have perpetrated sexual harassment.
“The study also showed that there are positive attitudes towards gender equality, our role is to cultivate these positive attitudes. This study gives UN Women and partners in Lebanon a strong basis for shaping community outreach activities and advocacy campaigns to address deep-rooted social norms that also emerged from the study,” says Mohammad Naciri, UN Women Regional Director for Arab States.
Indeed, the IMAGES MENA survey paints a varied picture of gender dynamics in Lebanon. The behaviors and attitudes uncovered in the survey reflect the complexity of gender norms shaped by traditions, changing gender identities and peculiar life situations. On the one hand, some men are broadly supportive of some forms of gender equality. Younger men display somewhat more equitable views than older men. At the same time, however, results show that women of all ages display more equitable attitudes than men.
The findings also point to the need for legal and policy reform to be coupled with attitudinal change among the general population in an effort to address gender-based discrimination. On the positive side, men have shown a supportive role during and after pregnancy, along with an encouraging attitude towards wanting parental leave for fathers and showing interest in being more actively involved in child care.
In the same event, “Al Mafroud” (a play on words meaning both “the imposed” and “what should be”), a documentary produced by ABAAD with the support of the European Union was launched. The 30-minute film highlights the effects of the war in Syria on conventional gender role transformation through focusing on first-hand narratives of four families/individuals from Syria. Each of the different stories takes us on a journey of displacement, lessons learnt, empowerment, and powerful change.
“This documentary film is an eye-opening expose into the reality of women’s power even in the most dire of situations. Narrated by the women and men who escaped the war, these stories of survival are a testimony to the transformation of conventional gender roles,” says Ghida Anani, Abaad Founder and Director.