Kataeb Party leader Sami Gemayel said women must have equal opportunities to work in a multitude of scientific professions, delivering a speech that honored the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Speaking at the U.N. headquarters in New York late Thursday, the MP noted that women have been marginalized in the field of scientific research for far too long.
“Outstanding female students, researchers and innovators across various fields will no more be marginalized or relegated to footnotes,” he said. “Their courageous work will be embraced and valued around the world. The challenges they are enduring will be addressed so they could realize their full potential and be a source of inspiration for many other girls and women to follow.”
Gemayel cited a recent report by the Euro-Mediterranean Research Cooperation on Research and Science, noting that the number of women who have graduated from scientific faculties outweighed the number of men. However, he emphasized that women comprised a far smaller portion of the work force despite their credentials.
Lara Saade, an aide for Gemayel, told The Daily Star that the Kataeb leader was coveted by the U.N. to give a speech due to his clear commitment to improving the rights of women in the region. In Lebanon, Gemayel has most notably backed stronger legislation which criminalized violence against women, abolished honor crimes, and supported a woman’s right to maternity leave.
“Gemayel has often spoken about the challenges facing women in science and the policy imperatives that can help address the issue,” Saade said.
Improving the legal framework in the workforce first starts by addressing the discrimination embedded within conventional gender roles. That’s precisely why Gemayel made it a point in his speech to note the need to support all women regardless of their profession. Such an approach includes highly qualified women who are dissuaded from contributing to their field of expertise.
“The absence of flexible shifts and child care facilities at work continue to challenge women abilities to balance between their job responsibilities and family life, especially when both partners are scientists,” he said. “Another unconscious bias is that female scientists only play a supporting role in a mixed research team; therefore they are often paid less and neglected in leadership positions.”