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Lebanon appoints first female defence minister in Arab World

Lebanon has appointed a female member of parliament as its defence minister, as part of its shake up following mass protests in the country

Lebanon has appointed a female member of parliament as its defence minister, as part of its shake up following mass protests in the country.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who has recently accepted his role following the resignation of former Saad Hariri, now leads a government consisting of six female ministers, including the new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Zeina Akar Adra.

Akar, who was appointed despite her non-military or defence background, is a descendant of a Christian Orthodox family and the wife of Jawad Adra, a well-known Lebanese businessman who heads one of the country's most prominent companies.

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In the shake-up of the new Lebanese government and cabinet, female representation has been a significant theme, with five other senior ministers being women: Manal Abdull Samad as Minister of Information, Ghada Shreim as Minister of the Displaced, Lamia Yamen Al-Dwaihi as Minister of Labour, Mary Claude Negm as Minister of Justice, and Fretinne Ohanyan as Minister of Youth and Sports.

The new Lebanese government is set to face a myriad of challenges to correct the shortcomings of the previous administration. Among those challenges are winning the confidence of the Lebanese people, keeping peace between the numerous factions in the diverse Lebanese society, ridding the political system of corruption, improving the economic situation, and achieving the demands of protestors.

Throughout the past few months, Lebanon has experienced a wave of protests over financial instability, government corruption and political overhaul.

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As a result of the demonstrations, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October, declaring later that he would not run for the position again. Following Hariri's resignation, President Michel Aoun held formal consultations with members of parliament on who to select, eventually appointing university professor and former Education Minister Hassan Diab on 20 December 2019.

Although the new government has just been announced and set up, there are reports that protestors are already dissatisfied with the cabinet under Diab, claiming that it does not reflect the diversity of Lebanon, is backed by factions which the protestors were against such as the Iranian-backed party Hezbollah, and is still corrupt.

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