Lebanon: Single By Choice
Why are so many Lebanese women single? Five women share their stories of love, life and marriage in Lebanon.
Accurate statistics are hard to come by but informally Adriana believes that for every single, eligible man in Beirut, there may be six or more single women. After living on her own and forging her own successful career in local government – and becoming the first female president of her municipality – Fadia Abo Ghanem Maalouf has finally settled into marriage. But when she met her future husband, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Women outnumber men by more than 2 percent in the country of six million. It’s a situation that becomes more pronounced as people enter their late thirties and early forties and is exacerbated by the sometimes rigid roles imposed by Lebanese society, across religious and cultural boundaries. Getting work has become an increasing problem following the end of the Lebanese Civil War, in 1990.
Unemployment hovers around seven percent today, so many men now work abroad, marrying foreign wives. Educated Lebanese women, tied to the more traditional expectations of parents and extended family, have tended to remain in Lebanon.
El Habre concludes that, in today’s Lebanon, perhaps being single is becoming the new norm. Women are taking more control of their lives in ways that much of society has not yet adjusted to. The consequences for Lebanon – and potentially the Arab world as a whole – may be an increasing shift away from traditional family structures. But, as yet, no one quite has the answers as to what will replace them.
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