Lebanese men have a great reputation abroad for being smart as hell and business savvy. Lebanese women however, have a wonderfully sexist reputation for merely being “beautiful”. However, rest assured that there is no shortage of intelligent and inspiring Lebanese women, too. Starting with the stay at home mothers, all the way to activists, artists, and incredible businesswomen. This independence day I choose to celebrate Lebanese women, both home and abroad who have worked effortlessly to serve communities and this country in different fields. You make us extremely proud.


1. Ayah Bdeir



Lebanese/Canadian born Ayah is CEO of littlebits, an open source library of electronic building blocks allowing absolutely anybody to create electronic inventions. It’s a bit like an electronic version of Lego, and boy is Lego fun! Bdeir has won countless awards for this company and her creativity, and it’s not hard to see why. She lectures at top universities around the world too. Couldn’t get more awesome? Think again. Bdeir hasn’t forgotten her Arab roots and has worked on several innovative and fun electronic projects, such as “Teta Haniya’s Secrets”. Sort of like an Arab/electric Victoria Secret since it involves electronic lingerie, inspired by old Syrian traditions somehow!


2. Linda Mattar



Linda Mattar was one of the first female activists and has been hailed as one of the most influential women in the country. She was President of the League of Lebanese Women’s Rights the year Lebanese women won the right to vote, and fought for over five decades for women rights. A woman who began the movement, and is partially responsible for most of the rights us women now have, Linda serves as an inspiration for activism and awareness.


3. Zoya Rouhana



Currently one of the most prominent activists in the country. You may not have heard her name, but she is the founder of KAFA, an organization very dear to my, and many other people’s hearts. Most recently, KAFA captured the attention of people around the world with their campaign to end child marriage, and are working endlessly to raise awareness and change laws affecting women. Aside from KAFA, Rouhana has worked for various women’s organisations and has been recognized for her efforts in this field by the US Secretary of State in 2007.


4. Loulou Khazen Baz



Lebanese born Khazen Baz founded “Nabbesh”, a company which connects businesses with freelancers, helping tens of thousands of young freelancers find work so far. Baz also spends some of her time giving back to the community such as helping marginalized young Arabs find work. Through Nabbesh, she is tackling unemployment across the Middle East and allowing people to work in the field they want to, as opposed to working just to pay the bills. The creative and budding Lebanese youth need something like this to kickstart their careers in a society where unemployment is high and hope in the country is extremely low.


5. Mounira El-Solh



Aside from being one of the first women to run for Parliament and an advocate for women’s rights, El-Solh founded a school and home for disabled children, “Al Amal Institute for the Disabled”, and an association for parents with children with mental disabilities. The school remained open during the war, and still exists today, hosting children from around the country. El-Solh has won numerous awards for her contribution to the disabled community, and rightly so. We live in a place where there is a lack of awareness around disabilities, and in particular, mental health. She was, and still is a beacon of hope for the disabled community.


6. Dina Maktabi



My social media choice is absolutely @MumsinBeirut by Dina Maktabi on Instagram. I’m not a mother, yet have followed them for years for the wonderful community they have formed for mothers in Beirut. The activities they run in and around Beirut has attracted attention from all over the country and aims at not only bringing mothers together, but providing the children with fun activities and events. The first of its kind, this community of mothers brings nothing but support and empowerment to each other through a new phase of their life which is anything but easy!


7. Bethany Kehdy



Lebanese food is now a “thing” in most parts of the Western world, but I recently came across Bethany Kehdy who has made a pretty decent business out of it! Kehdy is the founder of the blog Dirty Kitchen Secrets which is responsible for pure culinary art, creating dishes based on typical Lebanese flavours with a modern twist. Kehdy has been recognized by Forbes for being a young, yet talented businesswoman. She has also founded Food Blogger Connect, a European foodie conference group, and Taste Lebanon, which provides culinary tours around Lebanon. Sounds mouthwatering, I know.


8. Sarah Trad



It is no secret that Lebanon is facing a drug epidemic. Trad is co-founder of Skoun, an organization aimed at combatting and preventing drug use amongst the youth, providing drug prevention programs, treatment, and centers for help. Trad came up with a method to combat drug addiction and is focusing on Skoun to combat perceptions surrounding drug addicts and aid in reintegration into society. The system aims at locking up addicts, as opposed to aiding them seek the help they need. Trad’s work looks at drugs as a disease, rather than a crime. Her activism and efforts could not have come at a better time.


9. Nadia Tabbara



Nadia Tabbara is the founder of FadeIn Beirut. FadeIn hosts many awesome writing events and workshops, including but not limited to screenwriting, flash fiction, and a monthly poetry evening at Oliver’s Coffee Shop in Gemmayze, (of which I happen to be a huge fan). This event allows young writers to voice their work and engage with the rest of Beirut’s aspiring writers and poets. In her personal life, Tabbara is a writer and has worked on Hollywood blockbusters we’ve all heard of. Her current feature film is in the quarterfinals of a major Hollywood competition! Both contributing to Beirut’s writing community by bringing aspiring writers together, and doing us proud abroad, Tabbara is a wonderful reflection of Beirut’s cultural side which we have somewhat become famous for.


10. Nayla Fahed



It’s no secret that Arabic is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. Founder of Lebanese Alternative Learning, Nayla Fahed, created a software that uses technology and innovation to help kids learn Arabic in a fun, accessible and easy way. The software works with professionals and experts to make sure that children are getting the best quality education to help them excel, and ensure that nobody falls behind in class. As someone who is traumatized from learning Arabic, as I’m sure many others are, this concept has us asking our dear Lord why it didn’t come 20 years earlier!

I hope this article brought just a glimmer of hope to your day. Independence Day may not feel like it’s worth celebrating, since all we hear about is corruption and political pettiness, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people working endlessly to create a better society for all of us. Happy Independence Day!

Disclaimer: none of these points are sponsored or endorsed, but as a result of my own personal opinion and findings!

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Such citizens who take personal initiatives for the good of all are the ones who should be celebrated because they keep the country standing!

Loren Trad El-Assaad on Nov 25, 2016 via mobile web
 
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Such citizens who take personal initiatives for the good of Lebanon are the ones who Keep the country standing!

Loren Trad El-Assaad on Nov 25, 2016 via mobile web
 
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Beautiful minds from lebanon

Isabelle Murr Saliba on Nov 22, 2016 via web