Unequal wages for equal work in Lebanon

Lebanese women react to unequal wages for equal work in Lebanon. Noting that there are some gaps in Lebanon’s Labor Law, the women call on the government to make regulations in the law.


Beirut – A municipality in Lebanon announced that they need both female and male workers to work in agriculture and that the working hours of men and women will be equal. But the municipality also announced that they will pay 60,000 Lebanese pounds to women and 80,000 Lebanese pounds to men. This announcement sparks discussions about the “equal wage for equal work” in the country.

Mary Nassif Al-Debs, the president of the Warda Boutros Women’s Work Association, criticized the announcement, “The demand for the right to equal pay for equal work began at the end of the 19th century and we still demand this. Article 28 of the Lebanese Labor Law forbids unequal wages between men and women; however, there are gaps in the law.  There is a gap in Article 7 of the Lebanese Labor Law because this article categorizes workers and excludes certain groups from its protections and guarantees.”

The law is for certain working groups

Mary Nassif Al-Debs highlighted that the Labor Law is practiced for certain sectors such as industry, tourism, and commerce sectors. “Even though 30% of the Lebanese population works in agriculture, this sector is excluded. Our association works to fill this gap by pushing the government to ratify ILO Convention No. 190.”

“Women are paid less”

Women working in agriculture are paid less than men; Mary Nassif Al-Debs said that they demand the amendment of Article 7 of the Labor Law and the removal of the exclusion. “The amendment in Article 28 has no role and remains ineffective in the agricultural sector.”

“Women should be paid more”

The association members met with Lamia Yammine, former Lebanese Minister of Labor, about unlawful practices of employers against women working in agriculture. Mary Nassif Al-Debs talked about research carried out in Europe, “According to this research, women work both at home and workplaces, for this reason, women should be paid more. 65 percent of women are unemployed in Lebanon. We should work to push the government to ratify ILO Convention No. 190.”

“Patriarchal mentality is dominant in society”

Sherihan Al-Leithi also criticizes the unequal pay for equal work, “Accepting a lower wage for equal work makes no sense. This practice is a great injustice to every human being. People should be paid equally according to their jobs, not according to their gender. I can say that the patriarchal mentality is dominant in society. This mentality causes women to be paid less than men.

“This is unacceptable

Zina Yahya also commented on the announcement of the municipality and said, “It seems that these people are still in the age of ignorance and believe that men earn a living for their families. But today, many women try to earn a living for their families. This announcement is unacceptable.”