Kanye may have stolen all the limelight on Time’s 100 Most Influential People list for 2015, but I mean why shouldn’t someone as important as the husband of America’s ruling lady, Kim Kardashian? Less people noticed, but Time also included one Lebanese on their top 100, not cover worthy like Kanye, but still worth a mention.

Believe it or not, it was also a Lebanese woman. And no, she isn’t even married to George Clooney.

(Image via The Guardian)

Lebanese Rula Ghani, the First lady of Afghanistan, made Time’s cut. As the wife of recently elected Afghani president Ashraf Ghani, Rula Ghani has attracted significant praise and attention for transforming the first lady’s role to an active one in a country often associated with blatant gender inequality.

As Afghani author Khaled Hosseini writes in his Time tribute to Ghani, “[she] will not be happy standing anonymously behind her husband Ashraf Ghani. She will be heard. She will be seen. And she will be hands-on.”

In an interview with NPR shortly after her husband took office, Ghani explained how it’s a new concept for an Afghani first lady to have an office and to receive people, to try and work politically for the country.

“It's actually quite exciting to be charting new waters and to try new things. I don't mind the fact that I'm the first to have an office [in the presidential palace],” Ghani told NPR.

Both Ghani and her husband, the president of Afghanistan, attended AUB and studied political science. The couple married in 1975 and spent the next few years living in Afghanistan before moving to the USA in 1978 while her husband completed his PhD. They moved back to Afghanistan in 2002 when her husband was appointed finance minister.

She then volunteered at a non-government organization for 6 years in Kabul, helping to provide services to families of children working in the streets. Her work with the NGO has been the groundwork for much of the work she now does as first lady, addressing key social policy issues.

Ghani of course faces challenges. Being a women isn’t the only strike against her and her political work. Many religious conservatives have criticized her, as she is a Christian while her husband is a Muslim

Taking all this in stride, Ghani told The Guardian, “People who want to criticize can always do it.”

Speaking about the general plight of women in Afghanistan, Ghani is careful to defend while calling out the problems. “The media, especially the international media, have presented an image of Afghan women as weak, as women that are really leading horrible lives. I don’t want to in any way diminish the problems that women are facing . . . But women here in Afghanistan have played a very important role. And maybe it’s time that we should recognize them and celebrate them for that.”

Here in Beirut, we are definitely celebrating Ghani, the positive impact she strives for in Afghanistan and the good image she presents of Lebanese to the world.

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God bless you Rulla and protect you. A real fighter a real Saade.

Mireille Kikano on May 3, 2015 via mobile web
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She is worthy of the cover more than Kanye! Just my thought

Lamia Husseiny on Apr 27, 2015 via mobile web
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Elly Bekhazi on Apr 24, 2015 via mobile web