In honor of International Women’s Day, here are 12 Lebanese women who redefine empowerment and make us proud on a daily basis! (in no particular order)
1. Raya El Hassan
Raya El Hassan made history when she was appointed as Lebanon’s current and the Arab world’s very first female Minister of Interior and Municipalities. One month into office, she has successfully managed to remove cement barriers from Beirut streets to facilitate traffic and reignited conversation about civil marriage. Her agenda also includes implementing stricter law enforcement on domestic violence.
2. Paula Yacoubian
The MP delivered a speech in the parliament a few weeks back that spoke to each and every struggling Lebanese citizen. Her continuous crackdown on corruption and her persistent fight against the waste incinerators are admirable efforts and an essential step towards reformation in Lebanon.
3. Nadine Labaki
The Lebanese filmmaker’s masterpiece Capernaum was nominated for the Golden Globes in December and the Oscars in January. The brilliant tear-jerker completely won our hearts and received global critical appraisal, and Nadine made us all proud as the first Arab female director to be nominated by the Academy.
4. Captain Rola Hoteit
Though it only began as an attempt to challenge her friend’s misogynistic comments, Captain Hoteit became the first female pilot to join the Middle East Airlines flight crew 18 years ago. Out of 2,000 applicants and 600 students who sat for a written exam, she was selected among a final 9. Her friend did not make it.
5. Rayane Moussallem
The prominent sports journalist graced the TV screens of every Lebanese household when she hosted the FIFA World Cup 2018 analysis studio on local channel TeleLiban. Millions of Lebanese football fanatics were tuning in to keep tabs on the tournaments and watch her converse with her guests. She also made us proud back when she covered the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
6. Joyce Azzam
The inspiring mountaineer was the first Lebanese woman to have climbed 26 mountains around the world and to successfully partake in the “seven summit challenge.” Having already climbed the highest peaks in six out of seven continents, Azzam will be taking on the 7th and last summit, Mount Everest, in April 2019. Afterwards, she hopes to become the second woman in the world to complete the Explorers Grand Slam by reaching the 2 poles.
7. Dr Sandrine Atallah and Dr Gael Abou Ghannam
Both of these empowering women have an impressive number of followers on their Instagram profiles, which they have dedicated to promoting women’s health and breaking the taboo around female sexuality. From menstruation and contraception to pregnancy and pleasure, these two women are deconstructing myths and teaching women about their own bodies.
8. Judge Randa Khoury
In a progressive and momentous ruling, a Lebanese Court of Appeals in Mount Lebanon as presided over by Judge Randa Khoury issued a judgment holding that homosexuality is not a crime. This came as a re-examination of Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code and set a major milestone for gay rights in Lebanon.
9. Joumana Haddad
The outspoken Lebanese author, journalist and women’s rights activist always has a lot on her plate. Between publishing a new book, hosting her own TV show, and running for the parliamentary elections, she somehow still has the time to continue fighting for civil rights and freedom. Haddad also made major headlines this year when she was chosen to officiate the civil marriage of a Lebanese love-struck couple.
10. Manal Issa
Lebanese actress Manal Issa used the massive attention her movie was receiving during the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival to shed light on the lives lost during the Gaza protests. The star of Solo: A Star Wars Story unexpectedly held a sign that read “Stop the attack on Gaza”.
11. Lina Abi Rafeh
Named one of the 100 most influential people in gender policy by Apolitical, an international platform for government, Lina Abi Rafeh is a pioneer in the field of gender issues and gender-based violence. Her very first encounter with GBV was an article she wrote at the age of 14 about female genital mutilation. She is currently the Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at the Lebanese American University.
12. Joa Antoun
After a personal and extremely emotional experience with a breast cancer survivor, tattoo artist Joa Antoun started her extensive research on nipple reconstruction and scar cover-ups, and mastered the two skills. Since then, she has been supporting breast cancer survivors by offering these services for free to help women regain their confidence and turn their scars into beautiful stories.