Lebanese American University


A woman’s legacy

The Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) honors the recipients of the Mary Turner Lane Award competition for best LAU student paper on Women’s Rights.

The purpose of this award is to generate awareness about IWSAW and the importance of conducting research in the field of gender and women studies.

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The Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) marked a watershed on November 8 when it held its very first Mary Turner Lane Award ceremony which recognized winners in a competition for best original paper in the field of gender and women studies.

In the presence of LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra, winners were announced in two categories: creative/journalistic and research-focused essays.

The award in the latter category went to Patil Yessayan, Sawsan Khanafer and Marie Murray whose publication focused on the role of women in Lebanese politics. “The conclusion of the study provides ample food for thought and strategies for further research into gender politics and gender reform in Lebanon,” said their instructor Dr. Ray Jureidini, an associate professor of sociology at LAU Beirut.

Leanne Abou Hassan, an undergraduate student at LAU Beirut was the awardee for best personal essay that examined the sociological position of women in the Arab world. She thanked her instructor Myriam Sfeir Murad, also managing editor of IWSAW’s publication Al-Raida, for her support and encouragement. Abou Hassan concluded her acceptance speech by saying, “Gender inequality is a child of ignorance and a woman needs to know herself first before she can change that.”

The accolade is named in memory of Mary Turner Lane, who founded the women’s studies program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. In addition to championing women’s studies at UNC, Mary Turner Lane was interested in Arab women and served in Cairo as a consultant to the Egyptian Ministry of Education from 1978-81. Her daughter, Dr. Mary Ellen Lane established an award for a women’s studies student to honor her late mother’s legacy.

“This award is a testament to our university’s equal commitment to the education of women, to women’s rights, and to honoring young female students who, as future leaders in the country and the region, will also endeavor to make gender justice a reality in our part of the world,” said Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, director of IWSAW.

“The history of IWSAW is closely linked to that of the first women’s college in the Middle East, the American Junior College for Women, which was established in 1924 by the Presbyterian Mission and evolved into today’s Lebanese American University,” said Jabbra after bestowing the awards.

IWSAW intends to continue this tradition annually giving an opportunity to any female LAU student enrolled at the university to partake in the competition.


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