LAU marks International Women’s Day by celebrating Lebanese female soldiers
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March 12, 2009—
LAU paid tribute to 18 years of women’s service in the Lebanese Armed Forces on March 2, with army and university representatives saying such participation proved that Lebanese women were gaining ground in the fight for gender equality.
In an early celebration of International Women’s Day, which is commemorated annually on March 8, LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World held a ceremony honoring the role of over 2,000 women soldiers in the country.
After a short military parade on the Beirut campus, a unit of 50 women soldiers listened to a number of speeches that commended their role in defending their homeland and combating discrimination.
The ceremony aimed to show "that the Lebanese army really looks up to women soldiers" as much as their men counterparts, said IWSAW Assistant Director Anita Nassar.
History was full of women who had fought alongside men, and had often led them in battle, said IWSAW Director Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, recalling Jean D’Arc of France and the third-century Palmyrene Queen Zenobia.
"These examples are proof of women’s excellence in a field many still believe is the sole domain of men," she added.
Lebanese women had made great strides in the army and other sectors of society since LAF opened up to women in 1991, said Colonel Ghassan Gharzuddine on behalf of LAF Commander Jean Kahwaji.
An indication of this was that the number of women in LAF had increased in 2008, according to an army documentary shown at the ceremony.
"I send my regards and respect to all those who choose to wear the military uniform," said LAU President Joseph Jabbra at the event, adding that the achievements of women soldiers had been particularly obvious in management, logistics, and health care.
"We promise you the army will continue to protect the homeland and embrace everyone in the country" regardless of gender, Gharzuddine said.
Gharzuddine hoped International Women’s Day would motivate Lebanese citizens to "build a free, fair and equal society" in which women would be an integral and valued part.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to honor "ordinary women who have done extraordinary things throughout history for justice, peace and prosperity," said Dabbous-Sensenig.
IWSAW has held ceremonies in previous years to mark this occasion by paying tribute to prominent women, including some Lebanese war correspondents and the late writer, artist and activist Mai Ghoussoub.
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