Loubnaniyat 2020: Looking toward our second century
There are three years remaining until the Centennial of Greater Lebanon. Are we prepared to head into Lebanon’s second century? Sept. 1, 2017, marked the 97th anniversary of the declaration of the State of Greater Lebanon. In 1920, Gen. Henri Gouraud, the French high commissioner in Beirut, declared the birth of the State of Greater Lebanon which in May 1926, received its first Constitution as the Lebanese Republic.Since then Lebanon has become the republic of education, science, culture, arts, democracy, dialogue, a hub for knowledge and a laboratory for human intellectual advancement, notably when it comes to innovation, academia, media, printing, culture and arts.
Lebanon emerged as a testament to the peoples’ goodwill after World War I, just like UNESCO was after World War II.
Lebanon has suffered the consequences of war for a long time and only education and knowledge have helped reconstruct what was destroyed. Once again, the enlightening role of Lebanon as the regional center for human knowledge is being threatened.
A decadelong campaign commemorating the Centennial of Greater Lebanon titled “Lebanon 2020 the state for knowledge,” was launched in 2010 by MP Bahia Hariri, the head of the National Initiative for the Centennial of Greater Lebanon. The initiative seeks to recapture the spirit of Lebanon as a knowledge-based nation by bringing culture, science and research back to the forefront of the national agenda.
The National Initiative for the Centennial of Greater Lebanon was an effort created to stimulate dialogue and activities across the country in the ten years to 2020, to ensure that the 100th anniversary of Lebanon is celebrated and commemorated in ways that reinforce our nation’s role as a knowledge state.
The initiative held the 93rd anniversary of the declaration of the State of Greater Lebanon at Beiteddine Palace under the patronage of then-President of the Lebanese Republic Michel Sleiman, and the 94th anniversary of Greater Lebanon on Sept. 1, 2014, at the Grand Serail under the patronage of then-Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
The initiative “called upon all national leaders and activists to gather for setting a nationwide workshop to set a national strategy for Lebanon 2020, while strengthening the role of universities as key educational and knowledge production institutions, backing up decision-making at the national level and in all fields contributing to country’s growth and development” as stated by Hariri.
She is sticking to her deep belief that in a truly knowledge-based society, traditional gender roles need to be challenged to fully utilize the potential of all qualified people in the country.
Hariri launched the “Loubnaniyat 2020: Lebanon the state for knowledge” program, which aims to honor female leaders in the country.
The NICGL promotes pioneering Lebanese women who are committed to serving their country with their skills and knowledge. “Loubnaniyat” brings together Lebanese women and highlights their achievements and their contributions in different fields of society.
Today women in Lebanon constitute 51 percent of its population, 54 percent of university graduates and 29 percent of the total labor force. Women represent the majority of the university-educated labor in the market, accounting for over 50 percent.
“Loubnaniyat” women’s centennial forums and honorary events were organized by the NICGL, celebrating a century of Lebanese girls’ and women’s progress in numerous fields.
Each event was a catalyst for further future efforts.
The Al-Bustan news conference of July 2015 gathered more than 80 women educators, doctors, engineers, journalists, scholars, writers, lawyers, judges, directors, researchers and public servants and preceded the “Pine Residence” Forum in 2015, which honored 90 Lebanese women working in military and security institutions and their counterparts the UNIFIL officers.
The forums focused on their achievements and praised the skills of Lebanese women and their contribution to the wellness of the state.
On the 96th anniversary of the establishment of Greater Lebanon, held at the Lebanese Parliament on Sept. 1, 2016, under the patronage of Speaker Nabih Berri, the NICGL “Loubnaniyat 2020: Lebanon the state for knowledge” held an event honoring Lebanese female leaders in public administration, universities of scientific research, Parliament, ambassadors, institutions such as Banque du Liban and the Council for Development and Reconstruction, the National Council for Scientific Research and distinctive students in Lebanese Baccalaureate exams, as well as honoring female ambassadors to Lebanon and heads of the United Nations and international organizations in Lebanon.
All of those women joined “Loubnaniyat” with the goal of being catalysts for fresh dialogue and inspiration that will contribute to a vibrant modern state with a mission to help share ideas worth spreading.
“Loubnaniyat” represents the challenge of change and signifies the nation’s mood of optimism and confidence heading into its second century.
The centennial offers an unparalleled opportunity to commemorate Lebanese female pioneers and help more women reach the top of their fields and professions.
It is time for bold changes that will last and sustain generations.
“Loubnaniyat” will pave the way for change by undertaking commemoration activities culminating in the 2020 centennial year, so that we will remember the last three years of the centennial as “good years.”
Rubina Abu Zeinab-Chahine is Executive Director, Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.