The presence of women in the judiciary in Lebanon has increased over the past years, with women expected to comprise the majority of judges by the end of 2019. Despite these quantitative advances, some enduring barriers to women’s entry and career progression in the judiciary remain unaddressed. Women are still excluded from certain senior and “sensitive” judicial positions and are starkly underrepresented in fields such as military and criminal justice. Female judges have been unable to accede to religious courts which have jurisdiction over many personal status issues and thus have a significant impact on the lives of women and men. In addition, female judges tend to be concentrated in Beirut rather than rural areas.
Specific barriers to women’s full and equal presence in all branches of the judiciary are highlighted in the report. Societal stereotypical perceptions of the respective roles of men and women continue to play a role, and chief among those is the expectation that women must act as the primary caretakers in their households, which can hinder their career progression. Stereotypical perceptions are compounded by institutional barriers to women’s progress in the judiciary, including gender bias towards men in recruitment to senior and “sensitive” positions. In response to these barriers, the paper proposes a series of policy recommendations to ensure women’s equal presence in the judiciary.
The paper is part of a series of reports on women in the judiciary in several Arab States, conducted in the framework of a regional study produced by ESCWA in partnership with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The paper is based on analysis of relevant legal, policy and administrative frameworks complemented by focus group and individual discussions with female and male lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and court officials.