Lebanese database for female experts

2010-03-31 12:56

Recently the new online database Who is she in Lebanon? was established. The database displays female experts in a range of areas and is administrated by the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab world, IWSAW, at the Lebanese American University. Maysa Hajj Ballan is web editor of the database.

Why did you create the online database?

– Women experts everywhere in the world have to surmount many and noteworthy obstacles on their way to success. It is only fair to shed light on their important achievements, especially in fields that have been considered as exclusively fit for men such as politics, medicine, science, technology etcetera. These women have the right, and they deserve, that the world knows about their important deeds.

The database is a result of a collaboration with Danish KVINFO, who administrates a similar database. What does the cooperation mean?

– The cooperation has opened the door for the Danish population to learn more about the noteworthy achievements of women in the Middle East, and vice versa. In addition, it has lead to cultural exchange between the two countries. Equally important is the fact that the databases have opened the way for experts from these two different countries to network and embark on new endeavors that are rewarding for the experts themselves, as well as their respective communities.

Similar databases are under construction in other countries in the region. How are these progressing?

– In 2008 the project was also started in Jordan in cooperation with the National Commission of Jordanian Women and in Egypt in collaboration with the Women Memory Forum. However, the databases of Jordan and Egypt are not online yet.

Which topics are gender researchers in Lebanon focusing on?

– Experts undertaking research related to women and gender in Lebanon are constantly generating studies and policy recommendations. They have been involved in similar initiatives for many years now. Currently, the most researched and addressed issues as far as Lebanese women are concerned are those of the right of women to run for elections, the right to pass their nationality to their children, gender based violence, personal status codes, and rights of women to health and social care.

What project lies in the future for IWSAW?

– IWSAW has recently been commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, to develop a guide to equip personnel from governmental and non-governmental organizations in Lebanon with adequate methodology to rehabilitate inmates while fully respecting their human rights. This project follows several interventions by IWSAW over the last decade in the two major women prisons in Lebanon (Tripoli and Baabda), through which it succeeded to improve the physical setup for inmates, as well as help many of them to develop income generating skills and/or receive a fair trial. It is hoped that this guide will function as a prototype for similar guides in other Arab countries.

Author Charlie Olofsson
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