Tag Archives: Economy

Business Women Association (Lebanon) President on business women and current challenges

 On July 20, 2013 Nahar newspaper published an interview with Leila Karameh, president of the Business Women Association, where she outlined the realities facing women during the current difficult economic conditions, and the role of her association in that matter.

Karameh noted the worsening economic conditions in the country and the factors behind that situation. She indicated that the business activity level during this period is almost ‘zero’, and that the situation of business women has fallen under the red-line; in view of demands for reimbursement of bank loans at a time when their enterprises have recorded almost no income for more than a year. She also pointed out to difficulties in concluding soft loan agreements with the banks who still insist on getting approval and signature of their husbands, in addition to the other normal financial guarantees.
Regarding her association, she indicated that the objective from its establishment in 1997 was to bring together the business women community together in one body. Today, the association includes 52 business women members originating form all parts of the country and confessional groups. Concerning the level of participation of women in the business community, Karameh identified three key obstacles to which the association was confronted in trying to conduct a study on this matter. The first obstacle is that business women are not enrolled in chambers of commerce, the second is that there are companies registered in the name of women while in effect they belong to the husbands who work in the public sector and therefore cannot register the establishment in their name. The third obstacle is the fact there are a large number of women who work in crafts at homes without a commercial register. Furthermore, Karameh outlined some of internal problems she faced in the association which recently witnessed an internal dissension fueled by an external political figure. In terms of new activities, she indicated that the Association is preparing to participate in a major marketing event and conference in Qatar organised by Businesswomen League of Qatar presided by Sheikha Al-Anound Al Thani.
Politically, the head of BWA explained that her recent candidacy for Parliament was out of concern for women and development, and in order to make the voices of Lebanese women heard in decision-making circles. From a developmental perspective, Karameh aims is to reinforce the position of Tripoli on the country map, economically, educationally, developmentally and media wise. For that, she is seeking to set up a vocational center in Tripoli to educate young men and women who dropped out from the educational system and so as to help them in finding work opportunities.

Source: Al-Nahar 20 July 2013

 

كلام اقتصادي – ليلى كرامي: نمو الاقتصاد مرتبط بالأمن والخطاب السياسي

20 تموز 2013

لأنها إبنة مدينة طرابلس وتعرف مدى حاجة عاصمة الشمال الى الانماء، ولأنها تريد ايصال صوت المرأة الى مراكز القرار، كان قرار رئيسة تجمع سيدات الاعمال ليلى كرامي الترشح الى الانتخابات النيابية. ولكن التمديد للمجلس أخر هدفها، ولأنها كما تقول إن، وبرأيها اسباب قرار التمديد واضحة “يخافون على صفقات الغاز والنفط، ويريدون افقار اللبنانيين أكثر حتى يشتروهم بأبخس الاسعار في الانتخابات المقبلة”.

كيف تقيمين الوضع الاقتصادي؟

سيئ جدا، وثمة عوامل عدة جعلته يزداد سوءا، لعل اهمها تشنج الخطاب السياسي، وتسييس الاقتصاد، والصفقات والسرقات من حساب الخزينة. يضاف الى هذه العوامل عامل مهم وهو القضاء على الموسم السياحي الذي يعتبر موردا مهما لرفد الاقتصاد بكل قطاعاته. فكل القطاعات الاقتصادية مرتبطة بعاملين اساسيين: “الامن” والخطاب السياسي.

من المسؤول عن تردي الاوضاع الاقتصادية؟

أحب أن استشهد هنا بما قاله لنا رئيس الجمهورية ميشال سليمان لسيدات الاعمال في لقائه الاخير معهم، إذ اكد أن كل القطاعات مرتبطة بسياسة الاشخاص. وكشف لنا انه محاصر بسلطة سياسية لا تمكنه من اتخاذ قرارات مصيرية تتلاءم مع المرحلة الحساسة والدقيقة التي تمر في لبنان وتتناسب مع مصلحة الشعب اللبناني.

 ما المطلوب برأيك لاعادة الحياة الاقتصادية الى السكة؟

ثمة ضرورة لفصل السلطات، إذ من غير الممكن أن تكون السلطة التنفيذية والتشريعية هي التي تشرع وتنفذ بما يتلاءم مع مصالحها وليس بما يتناسب مع مصلحة الشعب. كذلك من الاهمية القضاء على الطائفية والمذهبية في التعيينات الى جانب اعتماد المراقبة والمحاسبة في كل الدوائر الرسمية، بمعنى ان يكون هناك سيف مصلت على رأس المرتشي وكل من يسيء الى اسم لبنان ومصلحة شعبه.

 هل مناخ الاعمال في لبنان ملائم لسيدات الاعمال؟

مناخ الاعمال في هذه الفترة يعادل الصفر. وقد أرسلنا كتابا الى رئيس الجمهورية نشكو له وضع سيدات الاعمال الذي اصبح تحت الخط الاحمر. فالمصارف قدمت قروضا للقطاعات الاقتصادية وشجعتها، ولكن منذ نحو أكثر من عام ليس هناك من مدخول.
ما الهدف من تأسيس تجمع سيدات الاعمال؟
عندما أسست التجمع عام 1997 إذ لم يكن في حينه هيئة رسمية تمثل سيدات الاعمال. كنت السيدة الوحيدة التي تحضر منتديات رجال اعمال كانت تضم في بعض الاحيان نحو 400 رجل اعمال. كان هدفي الاول لمّ شمل سيدات الاعمال في هيئة اقتصادية.

كم يقدر عدد سيدات الاعمال في لبنان؟ وما هو عدد المنضويات الى التجمع؟

حاولت ان اجري دراسة عام 2000 عن عدد سيدات الاعمال وحجم اعمالهن في لبنان، ولكني واجهت 3 معوقات: أولها ان سيدات الاعمال لسن منتسبات الى الغرف، ثانيهما أن ثمة شركات مسجلة بإسم المرأة ولكنها في الواقع هي لزوجها الذي يعمل في القطاع العام ولا يمكنه تسجيل المؤسسة بإسمه، ثالثهما أن ثمة سيدات يعملن في مجال الحرف اليدوية في منازلهن وليس لديهن سجل تجاري. أما التجمع فيضم 52 سيدة اعمال من كل المناطق والطوائف.
 ولكن يبدو أن بعض السيدات لديهن ملاحظات استوجبت خروجهن من التجمع؟

بعض السيدات حاولن القيام بانقلاب على التجمع بتحريض من احد السياسيين. ولكن كوني انسانة عنيدة وصادقة، فشل الانقلاب. وأكثر فقد انقلب السحر على الساحر، واسقطنا عضويتهن في وزارة الداخلية. وهنا أوجه الشكر الى المدير العام السابق للداخلية عطالله غشام الذي اعطاني شهادة شفهية في يوم الاستقلال 2012 اعتز بها جدا، حيث قال لي أمام الجميع في القصر الجمهوري “ليلى حفرت الصخر بإصبعها ووصلت الى القمة”.
هل تخشين على التجمع من الانفراط في ظل هذه الظروف؟
لم يحصل ان توقفنا بسبب انفجار أو معركة أو حدث. إذ نعتبر أن الحياة الاقتصادية مستمرة، وعلينا أن نتابع مسيرتنا مهما حصل، بدليل أننا نحضر للمشاركة في معرض ومؤتمر في قطر مع رابطة سيدات اعمال قطر برئاسة الشيخة العنود آل ثاني، حيث سنعرض منتجات لبنانية من صنع سيدات اعمال لبنانيات.
اجتزنا مرحلة صعبة جدا، ووصلنا الى نهاية النفق الذي نتمنى ان نخرج منه سالمين قبل أن يقضي علينا وعلى لبنان.

 ما هي المشكلات التي تواجه المرأة في عالم الاعمال؟

أبرزها يكمن في التعامل مع المصارف التي ترفض ان تعطيها القروض الميسرة ما لم تحصل على موافقة زوجها وتوقيعه، اضافة الى الكفالة.

 لقد طرقت باب الانتخابات النيابية؟

ترشحت عن المقعد السني في دائرة طرابلس، لسببين: المرأة والانماء. اريد ان اوصل صوت المرأة اللبنانية الى موقع أخذ القرار كشريكة للرجل في كل القطاعات وكمربية للاجيال. أحزن عندما اسمع أو ارى نساء لبنان الرائدات يطالبن بحقوقهن من الرجل. أما بالنسبة الى الانماء فإن هدفي هو اعادة وضع طرابلس ضمن الخريطة اقتصاديا وتربويا وانمائيا واعلاميا. ومشروعي يتمثل بفتح مركز حرفي لتعليم الاولاد الذين تسربوا من المدارس وليس لديهم القدرة المادية أو الفكرية ليتعلموا مهنة حرفية، ومساعدتهم في ايجاد فرص عمل توفر لهم لقمة عيش وتحميهم من الانجراف والانحراف وراء تيارات مشبوهة ومسلحة.

CRTD.A At the AWID Forum: Forging a new path for women’s economic rights in the MENA region

CRTD.A Stand at the Education Space

The AWID Forum has come and gone, and it took us some time to process all the energy, commitment and reflection that happened from the 18th to the 22nd of April 2012.

The Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action (CRTD.A) wasn’t only a mere participant to the event: with a delegation of five people, it played an active role in the sessions, either by organizing break out or in-depth sessions, or by participating to panels or by asking questions and looking deeper into issues.

 

The theme of this AWID Forum was “Transforming Economic Powers to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice”, a key priority for the CRTD.A who has been working on issues of economic justice for women in the Middle East for the past ten years now, advocating for the economic empowerment of women via skills-building projects, the setting up and partnerships with cooperatives, facilitating their management and access to market for example. Besides, the CRTDA has recently started opening up the debate in Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan on women’s work, the indicators measuring the work women do and its contribution to the economies of these four countries, as well as on women’s work in the informal sector.

 

These questions being central to the Forum, CRTD.A has been invited by the AWID Education Corner at the Forum to be part of a panel on sharing experiences on skills building sessions on women economic rights. The panel was shared with NGO workers, activists and academic from all over the world, includingIndia, theUSA, andBolivia. During this panel, CRTD.A was able to share its experience building the capacity of its constituency within the Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Women (SEOW2) project. It was interesting to study the similarities of experiences between the panelists despite the diversity of contexts: indeed, the global patriarchal system undermining women’s participation and contribution to the economy, along with the global conservative neo-liberal agendas impact all contexts present during the panel, which prompted panelists and the audience as a whole to have a conversation on what could be done to counteract the adverse effects on women of these two oppressive systems. While not one size-fits-all answer would be relevant, participants emphasized the need for solidarity and networking not only with and between national partners, but also among women’s rights defenders worldwide. The question of resources was also heavily debated, with the conundrum many NGOs and activists face: while donor funding is crucial to achieving sustainable work, it is also a form of dependence, and sometimes, imperialism, and civil society organizations should come up with alternative, independent ways of funding.

 

In that logic, the Resources Mobilization corner at the Forum provided a great platform to ask and discuss these questions.

 

Shady Khalil’s Graffiti 7arimi were also present at the AWID Forum

CRTD.A organized as well a session on Collective Advocacy in Muslim-majority countries with panelists Bénédicte Allaert from the WIDE Network, Egyptian activist Amal Abdel Hadi and Tunisian activist and doctor Ahlem Belhaj. This session started with a presentation on the CRTD.A’s SEOW2 project, as the project is regional and deals with economic empowerment of women in four Muslim majority countries: therefore, examples of collective advocacy in such contexts were given from the CRTD.A’s perspective. Ms Allaert shared then with the audience the research she has been working on on mainstream indicators and the ideologies underlying them. What is being measured at a global and regional level? Are there some best practices from governments who actually measure and take into account women’s work? “We value what we measure” has been a good maxim to show the poor level of measuring women’s work, and therefore of valuing it. The example of Liberia, which integrates the contribution of women’s work in the informal economy within the active women statistics was a good illustration that alternative measurements of the economy are possible and that the GDP-based, classical model did not reflect the reality of many Southern economies, and more particularly, the reality of many Middle Eastern contexts, where women account for roughly 70% of the informal work force, if not more.

 

Amal Abdel Hadi and Ahlem Belhaj spoke about the specific context of revolutionaryEgyptandTunisia, and on how women’s work remained invisible despite the change in regime and despite women being so active and present during the uprisings. Vigilance with regards to the pervasive patriarchal agenda seemed to be their words of warning for the future. Many questions were asked by a predominantly Middle Eastern and North African audience, notably on the issue of Qiwama and dialogues lasted long after the session was over, with ,many contacts being exchanged to carry on the conversation and collective action.

 

One of the innovation of this edition of the Forum was the organization of in-depth sessions, allowing for a strong focus on a certain topic, running for three hours and a half every day of the forum, a bit like an intensive lecture/participatory session. CRTD.A took active part in this pilot by co-organising with its partner the Women’s Learning Partnership the in-depth session on women’s rights and transition democracy in the MENA region. After a plenary in which Rabea Naciri from Morocco and Asma Khader from Jordan spoke about the constitutional processes and changes in the region, participants broke into groups to discuss constitutional reforms, the role of media and social media in making women’s claims visible and processes on transitional justice. I was lucky to be part of the group on constitutional reforms: it felt incredibly empowering sitting at the heart of a women’s cluster, reflecting and suggesting strategies on the core laws and processes of the countries of the region.

 

Women’s invisibility and the lack of gender perspective in the current constitutional assemblies (notably in Tunisia and Egypt) lead us to emphasize the need first of all of popular education on the importance of constitutional reforms and second of all, on the absolute necessity to have assemblies of women drafting their own version of the Constitution. The issue of negotiations with conservative powers came up: as feminists, where should we draw the line? What are the non negotiable? Should we have a long term vision and keep our radical agenda and invest on education and awareness-raising or should we cede on some points in the short to mid-term to insert ourselves in the debates and decisions? But if we do, would that keep the integrity of our thoughts and vision or who would be compromising the aims of our struggle? There are no clear cut, one size-fits-all answer to these questions, they take in-depth research, historical perspective, thinking and anticipation, input from different experiences and expertise to have a clearer picture of how to influence and shape the society we hope to see and want. We are still working on what the ideal gender sensitive constitution would be, but Rabea Naciri outlined some relevant, core points that Constitutions in post revolution countries should include, such as clarity of language and terminology so as to prevent any harmful-to-women interpretations and explicit prohibition of any type of discrimination based on gender on top of calling for substantive gender equality. Constitutions should also specifically speak to the rights of political opposition and mention and include civil society and its contribution to society as a whole.

 

The trouble with women’s Work…

CRTD.A’s delegation was also very active on social media, linking online then offline with partners, following sessions that were relevant to their work but also sessions that were related to issues of women’s rights they might not have been familiar with in order to build their own capacity, initiative new contacts and widen their perspectives and reflections.

 

The AWID Forum has been a whirlwind of events, sessions, conversations and experiences, and CRTD.A felt proud to be a part of this event, and to carry on the work and priorities it has set for itself, feeling stronger now more than ever having this visit to the Feminist family.

 

CRTD.A || Seminar on Women’s informal work on 12th May 2012

They say we only measure what we value. Looking at the almost total absence of measure of women’s work in the informal and care economy in the Middle East, one can not help but realize the enormous bulk of work women do goes unnoticed, under valued and unrecognized. In this framework, the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action is organizing a seminar on women’s informal work in Lebanon. If you’re interested in joining us this Saturday, 12th of May, from 9 to 14 at the YWCA of Lebanon offices in Ain el Mreisseh, kindly send an expression of interest, along with your organization and some information about yourself either to Paola Daher pdaher@crtda.org.lb or to Nathalie Chemaly nchemaly@crtda.org.lb. We hope to see you there! Image