Mr. Hariri is a strong supporter of women's rights, a pioneer in championing opportunities for women and an ardent believer in the role women have to play in the political, social and economic life of the country.

          In the year 2000, Mr. Hariri is seeking to establish the participation of women in the upcoming elections, - not only as voters but as candidates - as one of the most important platforms of his campaign. Mr. Hariri believes that change cannot occur without the full participation of women in political life, whether it be at parliamentary or grassroots level.

          This year Mr. Hariri used the Ramadan Iftars to spread his message of womens empowerment to the Lebanese people in general and the wider polity in particular. 

          During every Iftar Mr. Hariri called on women to become involved, to participate and to run in the upcoming elections. 

          On December 21st, 1999, he told more than 1,200 people gathered for Iftar in his home: "Progress in society is measured by the extent of women's participation in public life. I believe that the participation of women in society is essential. I believe their presence in parliament is essential and adds a new dimension to the legislative process because women have a different and more important outlook especially regarding social and family issues."

          On December 22nd, 1999, Prime Minister Hariri said during the Iftar: "The presence of women in parliament is more than necessary, it is a must. I call upon women to run for parliament, and I call for an increase in the number of women in parliament."

          On December 25th, 1999, while Mr. Hariri was encouraging women to vote, a women voter asked him: "Why should we vote? Our vote does not make a difference in our lives." Mr. Hariri responded: "The situation in the country cannot change unless you vote. If we want our situation to improve we have to vote." When Mr. Hariri was asked if he would put women on his electoral list he said: "It is not logical that I call for more women in parliament and not include women in my electoral list."

Quota For Women

          During the debate over the new election law in parliament on December 22nd, 1999, Mr. Hariri proposed legislation to be included in election law that grants women a quota in the next parliament thus ensuring proper representation for women in the political life of the country.

          Mr. Hariri's proposal reads: "Women constitute half of the voters in Lebanon, but their participation in Lebanon's parliamentary life is still far below this level. Representation of women in parliament has never exceeded three members. Therefore, and in order to allow a wider, more effective, participation of women and as a transitional period, we propose to add an article in the new election law that states the following.

          "Women should be awarded two of the seats allocated to each sect that has more than ten members in parliament. Women should get one seat out of the seats allocated to each sect that has between five and ten members in parliament. The seats are to be distributed among the election districts according to the schedule attached to this law."