Rita Sabat headshot“The recommendation that I make is actually the international community should make [women’s rights] a foreign policy priority. Women’s rights and development have never been a foreign policy priority in most [member] states,” said Dr. Rita Sabat, assistant professor from Notre Dame University in Lebanon.

“It should be not only a priority, but it should be a necessity that cannot be negotiated away at the expense of society. At the end of the day, the expense of women means the expense of their counterparts as well, and that’s their women, men, and children.”

“I think the international community must realize that the women’s right’s agenda, development agenda, and security agenda are intricately tied together and cannot be separated for interest or otherwise.”

Dr. Sabat said that progress in Lebanon on eliminating violence against women is evident, and she commended the work of civil society and nongovernmental organizations for engaging men, doctors, and social workers on this issue.

But Dr. Sabat said there are still many challenges and hurdles. “Usually, when we’re talking about political participation, the first comeback is, ‘Well, it is not really a place for women,’ you know, the women are too clean to be in the forefront of politics and security.”

The interview was conducted by Maureen Quinn, Director of Programs at the International Peace Institute.

Listen to the interview or read the transcript here.

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