Women on the Front Lines Conference Newsletter

March 20 2017 | 05:35 PM

On the occasion of International Women’s day, the May Chidiac Foundation hosted the 5th annual Women on the Front Line Conference in Phoenicia Beirut on March 6, 2017 to celebrate powerful, enlightening and influential women.

The ceremony was hosted by Rania Ziadeh Ashkar, Anchor at MTV Alivejij

Dr. May Chidiac, Founder and President of the MCF – Media Institute, gave the first welcome speech
Followed by H.E. Leila Solh Hamadeh, Former Minister and Vice President of the Walid Bin Talal Foundation5

Elizabeth Richard, H.E US ambassador to Lebanon, also gave a speech66
And last but not least, H.E Jean Oghassabian, Representative of H.E. Mr. Saad Hariri, President of the Council of Ministers.


The conference was then launched with the first panel, titled “Women in Politics: Breaking Glass Ceilings”. The panel focused on the role of women in politics who have proven to be influence at highest levels in decision-making.2248

Left to right: H.E. Mr. Hugo Shorter, the British Ambassador to Lebanon (moderator); MP Deborah Bergamini, a Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Spokesperson of Forza Italia in Italy; MP Doris Pack, the President of EPP Women, a Former Member of the European Parliament and Chair of EU Committee on Culture and Education in Germany; MP Rosy Senanayake, Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament, Prime Minister’s Spokesperson and Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Office in Sri Lanka; and H.E. Ghada Waly, the Minister of Social Solidarity in Egypt.
Doris Pack said that gender balance is essential. Moreover, she stated that like a bird cannot fly with one wing, our societies are unable to function appropriately with a patriarchal wing, and Ghada Waly (Minister of social solidarity- Egypt) stated that the social beliefs targeting women won’t change unless females will be granted the chance to express and to access the public life.

This first panel was then followed by a fireside talk with Ouided Bouchamaoui, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2015 from Tunisia, and the President of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) said that the world needs peace and wars create tears. Additionally, she stressed on the importance of dialogue and active listening, the talk was moderated by Ziyad Makhoul, Editor in Chief at L’Orient le Jour in Lebanon.256
After the first fireside talk, Gintare Narkeviciute, the Director of International Affairs at Reagan House discussed the role of young women in political parties.


The second panel titled “Women in Philanthropy and Humanitarian Assistance” tackled the personal and financial investment of women to create positive, measurable long-term change by focusing on root causes and pooling resources to increase impact and sustainable solutions. One of the panelists HRH Princess Ghida Talal said that woman represents intelligence, determination, and creativity. Also, the female component is the basis of family and the community. Moreover, she said that perseverance, determination and passion urge change.

Left to Right: Ricardo Karam, (Lebanon), TV Show Host, and Head of RK Productions & TAKREEM Foundation (moderator); H.E. Laila Iskandar the Former Minister of State for the Environment in Egypt, Development and Education Specialist; HRH Princess Ghida Talal from Jordan, the Chairperson of King Hussein Cancer Foundation & Center (KHCF); Nora Joumblatt, from Lebanon, Chair of the Children Cancer Center of Lebanon (St. Jude since 2005) and President of Kayany Foundation.

After the second panel, Nadim Kassar, Deputy Chairman and General Manager of BLC Bank SAL, and Member of the UN Women Empowerment Principles (UN WEPs) Leadership Group in Lebanon, gave a presentation about  “Empowering Women: A Business Perspective”.

The third panel titled “Women in Technological Transformation” showcase women who are excelling in different sectors through digital transformation. They will explain how they are successfully experimenting revolutionary technological innovations in their fields and will provide first-hand insights and recommendation required for business model changes in the digital era that will ultimately affect society at large.newsletter

Left to right: Ghassan Talhouk, from Lebanon, Head of UAE Talent Solutions, Linkedin; Suki Fuller, the Founder of Miribure Ltd, Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Company in the USA; Rana Chmeitally, from Lebanon, the Founder of The Little Engineer; Tania Moussallem, from Lebanon, the Assistant General Manager at BLC Bank, Melissa Jun Rowley, from the UK, the Co-Founder of The Toolbox, and Journalist.
Followed by a fireside talk with Dr. Fadumo Dayib, the first female presidential candidate in Somalia, and a former refugee said that Somalia is one of the most beautiful country and revealed that she wants to remove stereotypes. Furthermore, she said that the Somali people are optimistic and passionate. When asked by Ricardo Karam whether she is optimistic about becoming Somalia’s president someday, she answered that she is sure, not only optimistic, as she has the required passion



The third fireside talk was with Marie Christine Saragosse, Chairwoman and CEO of France Medias Monde, and moderated by Ziyad Makhoul revealed that we must not forget that freedom of expression does not come to us by chance, but we must endeavor to achieve it


The fourth and final panel titled “Women Fighters and Survivors of the Iraqi Conflict” revolved around the women who have suffered through violence, abuse, and physical destruction in Iraq by one of the world’s deadliest violent groups notoriously known as ISIS or Daesh. These panelists have decided to fight back in various ways and will share how they are able to overcome the immense challenges they face on a regular basis in violent country, where conflict reigns by the second. One of the panelists Bafreen Oso (ISIS Survivor- Iraq) said that when her escape attempts failed, she was even more determined to free herself from ISIS’s control.

Left to right: Bassam Abou Zeid, President of the Lebanese Press Club, Journalist at LBCI in Lebanon (moderator); Dr. Luma Badi, Care Center for Female Survivors in Iraq; Bafreen Oso, (Iraq), 19 year old Yazidi sold and abused by ISIS; Mazda Mohammed Rachid, Captain in the Peshmerga.

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