Therefore, LLWB decided to proceed with an assessment of the current context around women’s employment in the public sector. This study explores the main constraints facing women working in the public sector in Lebanon when it comes to the prospects for promotion, career advancement, and the day-to-day gendered experience within public institutions.
The interest in this topic stems from the lack of data on employment in the public sector in general, and more specifically, that of women. Being a host to an important part of the female labor force in Lebanon, the public sector thus needs more attention.
The data collection methodology is based on one-to-one participation and in-depth interviews. The methodology called for forty semi-structured individual interviews with women working in the public sector, whether ministries, independent public institutions or security forces.
Five major topics emerged throughout the fieldwork
On Satisfaction and promotion
- Gender plays a secondary role in career advancement
- Predominance of nepotism “Wasta” and political affiliation
- Lack of motivation due to performing the same job for a long period of time, notably for women in grade 3
On Work environment and attitudes
- Lack of awareness on the value of gender diversity and lack of understanding of gender dynamics within the professional context.
- Traditional perceptions of attitudes towards women and men
- The work environment of the ISF (and others) was not adapted properly to encompass the needs of the women who were recently employed there
On the intersection of gender, family, society with career
- Balancing work life and family life is a major problem facing women: being mothers and at the same time advancing in their careers
- Lack of change in mentality and paternal laws: the burden of children’s upbringing and housework chores solely on women
- Lack of a clear definition and a common understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment
- No competent authority to protect harassed women nor safe spaces for women who endure harassment in their institutions
Private sector perception
1. Although the private sector has its advantages but all participants still prefer to remain in the public sector due to special incentives
The findings call for the implementation of the following recommendations and actions to be implemented:
1) Design training modules and workshops to raise awareness regarding the definition of gender dynamics
2) Form influential working groups to work on draft laws addressing existing gaps related to gender-based discrimination within the public sector.
3) Work with civil society on lobbying the government to implement gender audits within public sector institutions.
4) Procure funding for quantitative research on female employment in the public sector
5) Lobby with different private sector companies to create pilot projects that provide the needed environment and support structures to enable mothers to work
6) Launch a media campaign to create awareness on the value of women and gender diversity in the workplace
7) Implement training workshops on harassment in the workplace targeting both men and women.
8) Put in place independent reporting structures for incidents of harassment.
9) Work towards providing social assistance and psychological support for women who experience harassment