Sustainable Development

Randa Berri: we can notice officials’ good will toward a serious approach of women empowerment

19 March 2019
Randa Berri: we can notice officials’ good will toward a serious approach of women empowerment
The Regie distributes certificates to 100 daughters of tobacco farmers participating in women empowerment workshops in South, North, and Bekaa

Randa Berri: we can notice officials’ good will toward a serious approach of women empowerment
Decision makers shall realize that women quota is inevitable

Under the auspices of Vice President of the National Commission of Lebanese Women and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Phoenicia University, Mrs. Randa Assi Berri, a ceremony was held at the Regie’s Headquarter on Wednesday to distribute certificates to 100 daughters of tobacco farmers that had participated in women empowerment workshops, held by the Regie in different towns of Bekaa, South, and North, in cooperation with the British SpringBoard programme.
The ceremony was attended by President of IFBF Mrs. Lamia Al Moubayed Bsat; members of the Regie’s Board of Directors: Mr. Georges Hobeika, Mr. Mazen Abboud, and Dr. Issam Salman; the Government Commissioner Mrs. Mirna Baz; Financial Controller Mrs. Carol Youssef; and several mayors and representatives of women and social organizations.

Berri began expressing her "best wishes" on the eve of Mother's Day to “Lebanese mothers in general and in particular to those working in tobacco fields, whose hearts swell with love, rising with the sun and burn the midnight oil to paint our dreams”.
“It is difficult, in the presence of this seedling, which outline the relation of the farmer with his field and his bread, to overlap the real image of this productive sector that provides an ideal image of social and familial solidarity and national unity. It is a sector that goes beyond sects, regions, and political alignments. Workers in this field, whether farmers, Regie, or investors, live along in one nation extending from south to the far north in Akkar and along the Bekaa and Hermel.”, she said.
“This event, in which the Regie is engaged in order to promote women empowerment, is not just a valuable step in the field of institutional work that tackles economic needs and human advancement, but also a step that erases from the memory of Lebanese people and tobacco farmers the unpleasant history between the Regie and farmers since early 1920s up until the 80s.”
Berri greeted “the Regie’s General Director, Board’s members, and employees’ hard word to develop the sector and upgrade it from an establishment of monopoly to a feasible institution that leads sustainable human development and a role model for other productive institutions that respond to the nation’s economic needs rather than burdening it”. She recalled “President Berri’s pioneer role in protecting this agriculture and developing the sector insisting that tobacco farming is a symbol of resilience against disenfranchisement and occupation and that adequate and sustainable development requires the government to explore tobacco’s best investment practices and to expand the sector’s planted area and the base of human resources.” As well, she underlined the “Regie’s experience of social solidarity, economic success, and tightening the relation between both sexes on the basis of equality in all aspects.”
Stating that she has begun “to notice officials’ good will toward a serious approach of women empowerment”, she called to “spread the model of launching, within public institutions and ministries, awareness-raising programs about the core of women empowerment, following the Regie’s steps.” 
She added: “decision makers shall realize that the female quota becomes inevitable for any future electoral law, as a corner stone of the implementation of women empowerment mechanisms”. She drew the “government’s attention for the importance of prioritizing developmental projects and supporting such programs in rural areas”, underlining the necessity to “support and equip tobacco farming sector in Lebanon, which provides nearly 40,000 work opportunities for farmers, workers, employees and benefiting roughly 300,000 citizens”.
At the end Berri described the story of tobacco seedling as being “the story of the woman and the human with their land and field. A story of bitter seedling that defeated Israel’s death and destruction machine”.

In turn, Seklaoui pointed that the Regie has more than 350 working women, and that the name of Mrs. Berri had been related for many years to supporting an empowering woman. She was the first to raise her voice calling to change situations of Lebanese women, carrying their pain and calling for equality (…), benefiting from her role as the wife of Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Nabih Berri who has concretized words and helped adopting laws that protect women.”
Seklaoui stressed that the Regie’s awareness toward woman’s issues is not occasional and limited to the International Women’s Day; it is a concrete act, practical translation, and deep faith that the empowerment of women means the empowerment of society and economy as well”. “We are all responsible to economically, socially, scientifically, and culturally empower women in order to get equal chances and participate in the decision and policy making processes. We deeply believe that we shall work toward an effective women engagement in drawing the future of our society, for how could the society that woman is its half prosper without her?”
He reminded that the Regie “within the scope of its sustainable development plan, aims to achieve equality, adopting large measures through its human rights policy that takes into consideration the distribution of opportunities among both sexes”. Currently, “women constitute roughly 40 % of total employees, all characterized by responsibility, professionalism, and potentials”. He explained that the Regie “apply article 2 of Labor Code stipulating for the achievement of effective equality in terms of employment, training, and salaries”, as well as “extending maternity leave to 12 consecutive weeks, keeping fathers in mind and offering them a 3 days paternity leave”.
Moreover “the subsidiary Women Association of the Syndicate of Laborers and Staff was launched in 2009, aiming to support working women issues and make their voices heard locally and internationally”. Seklaoui hoped this “model to be spread in other public and private institutions”.
He pointed that this principle was the base on which the Regie relied in order to empower daughters of tobacco farmers in the South, North, and Bekaa, within its sustainable development plan. “on the outside, the project covers 100 daughters of tobacco farmers in some Lebanese villages, but in the core it reaches hundreds of families in the present as well as in the future”, he concluded.

The Executive Director of SpringBoard, Carine Dali Ghourabi, coming from the UK specially to cover the ceremony, said that around 18,000 girls and women in the MENA region have participated in SpringBoard Programme. Underlining the Regie’s initiative to organize the program, she said the “the empowerment of girls and women is essential to enhancing economic growth and social development”. “Gender equality is crucial for a healthy society on different levels, starting with decreasing poverty rates and promoting health and education”, among other. She expressed, as well, the SprinBoard satisfaction to cooperate with the Regie, greeting both the establishment for this step and the girls for completing the program”. “Women empowerment and equality are vital for a balanced and harmonious future for us and our children. It is everybody’s responsibility”, she concluded.

It’s worth noting that the workshops were held in Dorus (Bekaa), Al-Haissa (Akkar), and Qossaiba, Aitaroun, Yatar (South), with the aim of enhancing the role of working women through enabling them to gain confidence and self-esteem, be able to make a difference in the surrounding on personal as well as professional levels, put work plan, and achieve work-life balance.
The fiWi Association, presided by Iskandar Boustani, provided girls capacity building session that enables them to manage their future resources and wisely make decisions on financial level.
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