The Arab Institute for Women

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Panel Discussion: “Women and Culture in Lebanon”

On November 28, 2022, The Arab Institute for Women (AiW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU), in partnership with the Spanish Embassy in Lebanon, hosted the second edition of the yearly series of platform discussions – “Diálogos en femenino plural/ اجتماع مؤنث سالم” – which aims to support and accelerate women’s participation in all kinds of political, economic and social activities in Lebanon. Under the title “Women and Culture in Lebanon”, this year’s edition discussed the essential role and presence of women in the cultural landscape.

In an opening word, Director of The AiW, Ms. Myriam Sfeir, welcomed the attendees, introduced the honorary guests (H.E. Dr. Jesús Santos Aguado: The Ambassador of Spain to Lebanon, and Dr. Elise Salem: Vice President of Student Development & Enrollment Management at LAU), the moderator (Dr. Nadine Panayot: Curator/Associate Professor at the American University of Beirut – AUB), and the panelists (Dr. Yasmine Nashabe Taan: Associate Professor/Director of the Institute of Art in the Arab World at LAU, Saleh Barakat: Representative from AGIAL Gallery, Aurelien Zouki: Representative from Hammana Artist House, and Hania Mrouer: Representative from Metropolis Cinema).  

In opening remarks, Dr. Salem delivered a welcoming speech through which she emphasized LAU’s historically leading role in promoting gender equality through The AiW and different programs and intitiaives. Then, Mr. Aguado highlighted the importance of the event in reflecting on women’s role and participation in Lebanon’s cultural and artistic landscape. Finally, Dr. Panayot, through a brief overiew of women’s pivotal role in the cultural realm in Lebanon, set the stage for the panel discussion.

The panelists discussed, from a gendered perspective, the role of women in the artistic and cultural heritage of Lebanon. Dr. Nashabe first reviewed LAU’s role in advancing women’s talents in the arts, and the university’s long-standing art and design exhibitions. She as well pinpointed LAU’s early inclusion of young girls in art programs and events. Then, Mr. Barakat displayed the artistic work of many young and leading women in Lebanon. As he demonstrated, through paint and design, women and girls have untraditionally and creatively demonstrated their livelihoods and experiences. Following the two interventions, Mr. Zouki highlighted the “Us, the Moon, and the Neighbors” festival which transformed Mar Mikhael-Beirut into a venue for reunion and a space for everyone, including poets, musicians, singers, artists, and ordinary citizens to unite and create a common experience. This event, he stated, is a unique opportunity to create a network for cultural diversity and human dignity. Finally, Mr. Mroue emphasized the role which Lebanese women have played in the film/arts industry over the years and their contribution to the cultural heritage. As he further asserted, women have been the first to be present in the arts field and have pioneered the festival trend in Lebanon.

The panel discussion concluded with a short Q&A session.