New film “Madame Parliamentarian” raises important questions about the political participation of women in Lebanon

New film “Madame Parliamentarian” raises important questions about the political participation of women in Lebanon

Last week I attended the premiere screening of a new film by Lebanese documentary filmmaker Rouane Itani. Rouane is the founder of Aflama, LLC, an international video production and language services company that has created videos for a variety of clients in non-profit, corporate, educational, and broadcast organizations. “Madame Parliamentarian” is Aflama’s first independent original production.  The premiere was well-attended, and Rouane Itani herself, along with Stephanie Foster, senior policy advisor at the State Department, interacted with the audience for a panel discussion and Q&A afterwards.

I was not expecting to hear much more than I already knew: women are still poorly represented in major institutions of political power in the MENA. This is despite the fact that Turkey has had one of the two female prime ministers to date in the region: Tansu Çiller, who was in office from 1993-96 (the other was Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, in office from 1969-74). Çiller was not particularly remembered for her work on women’s issues, or for being particularly supportive of promoting the rise of more women to the heights of political power, and this is one of the questions that the film, and the Q&A session afterwards explored: why do so many women who come to power fail to push the agenda forward on issues of concern to women?

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