Empowerment and Innovation: the Pioneers and Leaders HUB

03/04/2019 - 18:47 PM


Special to the Beirut Times

The Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace at the University of Maryland is an endowed academic program that strengthens understanding between Eastern and Western cultures in general, and the Arab ethos and American values in particular. The Gibran Chair has launched Women as Partners in Progress (WPP), an international development project supporting women’s empowerment in the Arab world.


WPP’s goal is to promote women’s leadership and gender inclusive policies working with their three partners: in Morocco with Jossour FFM; in Jordan with World of Letters; and in Kuwait with Abolish 153. With their partners, they support women leaders in amplifying their voices on issues important to them. WPP is unique in presenting a Knowledge Seminar and Leadership Workshop in each country. At these workshops, 30 established women leaders work together towards two to three common goals.


Another key innovation of WPP is the Pioneers and Leaders HUB, a knowledge center about Arab women designed to acknowledge and support the advancement of Arab women’s progress by Arab women pioneers, leaders, and civil society organizations.


The critical significance of this Hub is that for the first time a Hub has been created on Women’s Leadership in the Arab World. For the first time, Directories have been compiled of Arab Women Pioneers, Leaders, and Organizations supporting women in 15 countries across the Arab World.


These Directories of 213 women pioneers, women leaders, and organizations tell a collective story of brave women overcoming barriers, being role models, carving paths, being the shoulders for others to advance; breaking glass ceilings; and exemplifying values of progress, peace and human rights for all; inspiring others; and challenging and shifting mindsets of what is possible.  


A Woman Pioneer that the Hub is featuring is Dr. Salwa Nassar, the first Lebanese president of the Beirut College for Women (BCW) in 1965, which later became LAU. Nassar was a nuclear physicist and college administrator. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of California Berkeley in 1945, where she was the eighth woman (ever) and first Lebanese woman to earn a PhD in physics. She was also the first woman in the mathematics department at the American University of Beirut (AUB).


A Civil Society Organization highlighted in the Hub is The Arab Institute for Women (AiW),  in LAU. When established, it was the first academic institute globally to focus exclusively on women. The Institute focuses on advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality through education, research, development programs, and outreach at the national, regional, and international levels at the intersection of academia and activism.


Over 17% (38/213) of featured Women Pioneers, Women Leaders, and Civil Society Organizations are Lebanese, of which some are Lebanese-American. Lebanon is the country with the largest representation in the Hub.


Women and Organizations from Lebanon include:

   Women Pioneers

  • Zaynab Fawwaz
  • May Ziade
  • Dr. Saniyya Habboub
  • Dr. Edma Abou Chedid
  • Loreen Rihani
  • Anissa Rawda Najjar
  • Dr. Salwa Nassar
  • Dr. Jamal Karam Harfouche
  • Saloua Raouda Choucair
  • Dr. Zahia Kaddoura
  • Laure Moghaizel
  • Myrna Bustani


   Women Leaders

  • Dr. Lina Abirafeh
  • Ghida Anani
  • Hayat Wahab Arslan
  • Brigitte Chelebian
  • Dr. Raghida Dergham
  • Rana El Chemaitelly
  • Dr. Nadia El-Cheikh
  • Joumana Haddad
  • Manal Hassoun
  • Suzanne Jabbour
  • Dr. Ghinwa Jalloul
  • Maha Kaddoura
  • Nayla Moawad
  • Dr. Amal Mudallali
  • May Rihani
  • Rania Sabaayon
  • Paula Yacoubian
  • Dr. Huda Zurayk


   Civil Society Organizations

  • Arab Institute for Women
  • Justice Without Frontiers
  • Kafa
  • National Commission For Lebanese Women
  • Rene Moawad Foundation
  • Restart Center
  • Sawa Association for Development


Visit the Pioneers and Leaders HUB here to learn more.





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