And they ran for their right!
May 9, 2014—
Under the motto “It’s your Right to Run, Run for your Right,” over 120 LAU runners and volunteers participated in the Women’s Race that took place in Beirut on May 4. The Outreach and Civic Engagement Office (OCE) partnered with the Institute for Women Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) to mobilize participants in support of the National Commission for Lebanese Women and the National Campaign to Protect Underage Girls from Early Marriage.
LAU runners numbered no less than 86 – among whom were students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of LAU – while 43 volunteers took position at the water station that was set up in front of International College - Raouche and did their part by serving and cheering.
“The women’s race was absolutely splendid and uplifting. It was a true tribute to the dignity of women and an affirmation of their extraordinary role and place in society,” says LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra before adding “It was a striking signal to one and all, that all obstacles, legal and otherwise, that stand in the way of women’s self-fulfillment must be eliminated, especially by men. For if there is no justice for women, there will be no peace for men.”
During her time as an exchange student at LAU Sandra Hohn, a political science student from Germany, became aware of the struggles of women in this part of the world which sparked in her a passion for women’s causes globally. “Experiencing the Beirut Marathon run last year taught me about the feeling of community and the fun attitude created at these events in Lebanon. I felt that participating in this race in particular would show my solidarity with other women. It was very inspiring to see that for once women were put in the spotlight while their partners, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers and so on were invited as supporters,” she says.
Founded in 1835 as a school for the education of women in the Ottoman empire, LAU participated in the race to demonstrate its continuous dedication to gender equality and women’s empowerment, says OCE Executive Director Elie Samia.
For student volunteer Narimane Kishly, the experience was incomparable. “We helped and supported people. It was my second time as a volunteer and I am looking forward for the third. It was a lot of fun and I felt very much appreciated,” she says.
“It was a great day, a great cause. It was exceptional,” says Assistant Professor in Nutrition Lama Mattar who ran the 10k.
“We are proud that so many people showed up. This race has a special meaning for IWSAW. We have been striving to call attention to the rights of women and specifically to raise awareness about the harmful repercussions of early marriages,” says Dr. Samira Aghacy, IWSAW Director.
Fighting for women’s rights is a family affair, as shown by the IWSAW staff and their families at the race.