Lebanon's 'icons of change': Honoring Lebanese trailblazers Linda Matar and Giselle Khoury on International Women's Day

Lebanon News
2024-03-08 | 15:08
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Lebanon's 'icons of change': Honoring Lebanese trailblazers Linda Matar and Giselle Khoury on International Women's Day
Lebanon's 'icons of change': Honoring Lebanese trailblazers Linda Matar and Giselle Khoury on International Women's Day

By Shaza Wannous

As the world commemorates International Women's Day, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the remarkable influence of Lebanese women on shaping the rich tapestry of our nation's history, culture, and heritage.

From breaking societal taboos to excelling in diverse fields, Lebanese women have continually demonstrated strength, resilience, and unwavering determination.

They have fearlessly served in various capacities within the military, embodying courage and dedication in defending their nation.

Since being granted the right to enroll in the Lebanese Armed Forces in the late 1980s, Lebanese women have defied stereotypes, serving with courage and distinction in various roles, including combat units.

Today, their presence is growing, with approximately 6,700 women in the armed forces, reflecting their invaluable contributions to safeguarding Lebanon's peace and security.

Transitioning from military service to the realm of sports, Lebanese women have carved out a formidable presence. Their prowess on the court not only showcases their athletic abilities but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring athletes nationwide.

One prominent example in the sports field is Aziza Sbaity, dubbed "the fastest woman in Lebanese history." She has captured attention for her exceptional athletic power, particularly in sprinting, and was listed among BBC's 100 Women 2023.

Moving beyond sports, across the spectrum of arts and media, Lebanese women have elevated Lebanon's reputation as singers, artists, comedians, human rights activists, and journalists.

Building upon the acknowledgment of Lebanese women's pivotal role in driving progressive change, it is imperative to delve into the remarkable contributions of individuals who have exemplified resilience and empowerment.

Linda Matar and Giselle Khoury emerge as shining examples of this spirit, each leaving an unforgettable mark in their respective domains.

Linda Matar:

A pioneering figure in the Lebanese feminist movement, Linda Matar left a legacy of firm dedication to women's rights and gender equality. Born in 1925, Matar's life was marked by a relentless pursuit of justice and empowerment for women in Lebanon and beyond.

Throughout her life, Matar played a fundamental role in shaping the landscape of women's rights activism in Lebanon.

She was instrumental in establishing various women's organizations, and her advocacy extended to the legislative arena, where she fought for women's rights to run for elections, travel without spousal consent, and ensure working women's rights to their children.

Despite facing challenges and setbacks, Matar remained steadfast in her commitment to advancing women's rights.

She participated in numerous Arab and international conferences, including those organized by the United Nations, where she advocated for policies to address gender-based violence and discrimination.

Matar's influence transcended national borders, earning her recognition on the global stage. In 1995, the French magazine Marie Claire selected her as one of the hundred women who shook the world.

Lebanese Presidents Michel Sleiman and Elias Hrawi further acknowledged her contributions, awarding her the National Order of the Cedar for her exemplary service to Lebanon.

Throughout her life, Matar was a beacon of hope and inspiration for women across Lebanon and the Arab world.

Her diligence lives on in the countless lives she touched and the progress she helped achieve in the ongoing struggle for gender equality.

Giselle Khoury:

Renowned Lebanese journalist Giselle Khoury, a luminary in the Arab world, passed away at the age of 62 after a battle with cancer.

Throughout her three-decades-long career, Khoury made an indelible mark as one of the Arab world's most respected interviewers and analysts.

Her journey in journalism began in 1986 at LBCI, where she hosted the widely acclaimed talk show Hiwar al-Omer.

She later ventured into various media organizations, contributing significantly to the launch and success of renowned news platforms.

Across these roles, Khoury showcased her journalistic acumen by conducting insightful interviews with prominent figures and anchoring programs that delved into critical global issues.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Khoury's profound love for Lebanon and dedication to preserving its heritage and promoting civic activism were evident throughout her life.

In 2006, she established the Samir Kassir Foundation to promote democratic values in Lebanon and the Arab world while advocating for freedom of expression.

Recognized globally for her contributions, Khoury was selected by The New York Times in 2005 as one of the top eight female journalists worldwide in news and politics.

Her commitment to advancing democratic principles earned her the prestigious Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Khoury's legacy continues to inspire generations and shape the discourse on democracy and freedom of expression in Lebanon and beyond.

On International Women's Day, let us honor and appreciate the invaluable contributions of Lebanese women like Linda Matar and Giselle Khoury, whose unwavering resilience, courage, and determination serve as a testament to the enduring strength of women everywhere, inspiring us to strive for a future where gender equality and empowerment reign supreme.

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Linda Matar

Giselle Khoury

International Women's Day

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