Notre Dame University



LERC Associate Researcher Dr. Salwa Karam talks in a conference on Gender and Emigration in Lebanon at Le Meridien Commodore

11 July 2008
Reported by Basma Abdul Khalek (LERC Research Assistant)

A workshop entitled Gender and Emigration in Lebanon was organized by the Association of Family Organization, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Lebanon. The workshop was made up of talks by the President of the Association of Family Organization Mr. Toufic Osseiran, President of the Population Committee of the Association Dr. Riyad Tabbara, the representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Dr. Samir Farah, and the Lebanese Emigration Research Center Associate Researcher Dr. Salwa Karam.

The workshop opened with Mr. Toufic Osseiran's presentation, which focused on the issue of the world population growth. He mentioned that in 1987 the world population was about 5 billion inhabitants, and by 2008, the number increased to reach 6.5 billion inhabitants. Mr. Osseiran added that the essential interest of the world governments must be centered on the combination of both economic and population growth.

In his presentation, Dr. Riyad Tabbara referred to the increasing importance of young emigration in Lebanon. He added that 35 is the percentage of young Lebanese aged above 18 years who intend to migrate mainly in order to ensure better living conditions for their family in Lebanon. Incentives of emigration also include those related to the degradation of the political and security situation in the country over the last three years. On the one hand, Dr. Tabbara stressed the positive effects of the Lebanese qualified emigration. He indicated that the outflow of Lebanese human capital can be considered as a substantial gain for Lebanon, through remittances, and participation of Lebanese migrants in the economic activity of their homeland via investment and development activities. On the other hand, he mentioned the social consequences of Lebanese emigration among which one may notice family dislocation.


From left to right: Dr. Karam, Dr. Farah, Dr. Tabbara, and Mr. Osseiran (July 2008)

The speech of the representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Mr. Samir Farah showed the importance of common issues in developed countries, such as internal migration towards the city in the search for job opportunities, and fighting poverty and under-development.

Dr. Salwa Karam presented the main points of her research paper on gender and migration in Lebanon. She first listed the major phases of gender migration, which are the masculine migration, the mixed-family migration and the contemporary migration. Then, Dr. Karam developed and analyzed the aspects of the Lebanese feminine migration based on specific figures that reflect family reunification, job search and degradation of the economic situation in Lebanon as main causes for this migration. Family status is also considered to be a central indicator for feminine migration. Single, widowed and divorced women are the most likely to migrate alone, whereas married women migrate with their family. This social aspect of gender migration has many positive results that must be revealed; for instance family cohesion, cultural mixture, economic and social improvement, spread of the Lebanese culture and social heritage, and liberalization from social hindrances. Although these are important aspects, one cannot disregard the fact that family reunion may cause children's merger into the host country' society, and, by the way, the loss of home attachment. The delay in marriage is as well to be highlighted as a direct outcome of young migration. The percentage of single young Lebanese women (49.4%) is the highest for the age bracket 25-29 years. At the end of her presentation, Dr. Karam emphasized the need to keep and improve the linkage between Lebanese emigrants and their homeland, in order to keep them aware of their traditions, and to protect their roots.