May Chidiac

WOFL Jordan 2023 Dr. May Chidiac Opening Speech

I would like to say a word stemming from the heart before I start with the official text.

First of all, the presence of His Excellency, the Jordanian Prime Minister, Dr. Bishr Al-Khasawneh, who prioritized us today with his presence and the speech he gave during this occasion, is a great honor to us.

Of course, we also welcome the representative of the Prime Minister, who will also give a speech in a bit, Minister of Government Communications Mr. Faisal Shuboul.

I welcome all friends, ambassadors, ministers, and Minister Manqoush who is the first Foreign Affairs Minister in Libya. I do not know whom else to welcome, but allow me to shed light on my friend Celine Abou Ghazale because a few days ago we were mourning the loss of her father, and yet, she insisted to be here today at the Conference since it is dear to her. I found this so touching, and I know how much this conference has become dear to both Jordanian and Lebanese hearts as well as the hearts of all participants from various regions.

I would also like to welcome Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses, Princess Basma, who will be participating with us in one of the panels, and HRH Princess Dina, whose presence is also very dear to us today.

I don’t want to be excluding anyone. There are also diplomats, Lebanon’s ambassador, and the Kuwaiti Charge D’affaires. I know there are many present here, I’m sorry if I cannot name everyone, but from my heart, my joy today is indescribable with my return to my second home, Jordan.

His Excellency the Jordanian Prime Minister Dr. Bisher Al Khasawneh, the representative of the Hashemite Government, Mr. Faisal Shuboul Minister of Government Communications.

Your Excellencies and Distinguished Guests,

Members of the Diplomatic field and Political, Economic, and Media Corps, and Security Entities,

Representatives of Civil Society and Women’s Organizations,


Dear friends, honorable attendees,


With great joy and indescribable excitement, we gather once again in Amman, where five previous conferences of “Women on the Front Line – MENA Chapter” provided a platform for inspiring women from the Arab region and the world. It is true that the pandemic forced our absence for two years in 2020 and 2021. However, our return last year, with the encouragement of friends in Jordan, who are strong supporters of women’s issues and rights, was much stronger. This has made this event a prestigious and highly anticipated milestone on the agenda of women’s events and activities.

It is a great honor today to stand once again on this podium to launch this conference in its sixth edition titled “Women on the Front Line – MENA Chapter – Jordan 2023.”

Our conference this year also, as it was last year, is held under the patronage of His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Bishr Al-Khasawneh, who graced us with his presence in person and his participation in the opening activities of this Conference and to whom we extend our welcome and thanks yet again. I also take this opportunity to renew my greetings to His Majesty King Abdullah II, who never hesitates to support any step that enhances women’s empowerment and contributes to the advancement of their capabilities. I also extend my greetings to Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, who, as we witnessed earlier, was the first in providing her patronage to the first edition of the WOFL Jordan conference in 2016.

Undoubtedly, the climate of peaceful change that has begun to impose a new reality in the region is expected to ease the tensions that women have long paid the price for. However, the sparks of tension that are starting to subside on one front, as is the case in Yemen for example, do not take long to reignite in another country, as is the case in Sudan, erasing all the positive change that women, who participated in the revolution, achieved and their dream of a better future.

According to the report issued in the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women held in March of last year, violence and “deep-rooted discrimination” remain at the top of the challenges that hinder the advancement of Arab women.

According to a report by ESCWA issued earlier this year, the representation of women in legislative, executive, governmental, and local bodies, as well as in decision-making positions, continues to be disappointing.

Indeed, the active participation of women in popular movements in several Arab countries has been considered a first step towards changing societal culture and the derogatory view towards them. However, the election results that followed these movements were disappointing, as women did not achieve acceptable levels of representation except in countries that implement quota systems.

Therefore, the challenges remain significant, especially in societies where women are still marginalized due to traditional and social values, while courageous and proactive women emerge, defying stereotypes and making their presence known, influencing public opinion and making a difference.

I will go over some examples, but I will not go into them in detail since we’re short on time.

I will stop on a part we have certainly all followed.

What is occurring in Iran, for example, where Mahsa Amini was a source of inspiration for the Iranian protests. Her arrest by the regime and what is called the “morality police,” specifically due to improperly wearing the hijab, and her death in custody led to wide-scale demanding protests reaching a point where even high school girls protested and challenged the security police campaigns.

While Egyptian women continue to be absent from civil and criminal justice platform, we saw that outside Egypt, there is a lady, who took one of the highest positions in one of the most important American universities. However, what happened in Egypt recently is that Radwa Helmi Ahmed took the platform of the Administrative Court in Egypt as the first female judge to hold this position. The law did not prohibit this, but the prevailing custom made it exclusive to men.

Since we are talking about Egypt, allow me to welcome the Egyptian star, who also fought against the tyrannical rule in Egypt. At a certain stage, she was found in direct opposition to extremism, and she is the star, Elham Shahine.

To quickly continue, in Lebanon, for example, the number of female officers increased. The number of female members of parliaments increased, they were six and are now eight, so barely, but we still consider it something good.

In Saudi Arabia, women are achieving accomplishments in various fields, including medicine, commerce, education, transportation, and military ranks. Women have also begun to be largely appointed to political and diplomatic leadership positions.

In the United Arab Emirates, women are succeeding, especially in the field of space such as exploration and much else, and they have majorly advanced.

Among Jordanian women, what is remarkable, apart from their achievements inside Jordan, for example, on the global level, the Jordanian Khayla Musa won a seat on Crawley Borough Council in the United Kingdom as a member of the British Labour Party.

On the sports front, Ayah Al-Majali became the first Jordanian to participate in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with the Olympique Lyonnais women’s team. Additionally, Jordan won two awards at the “Fatima bint Mubarak” Awards for Women’s Sports in Abu Dhabi.

Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the Wimbledon final, and it is the first time we ever see an Arab woman in tennis.

In Morocco, also on the sports front, it is a topic that is dear to Maha’s heart since she constantly runs in marathons. We have Bouchra Karboubi, who became the first female to officiate the final of the Throne Cup in Morocco. In other words, she was a referee in a football match. Therefore, there is remarkable progress in Arab countries.

I gave a couple of excerpts. These examples inspire a glimmer of hope for change, but they are not erasing the painful reality that women still experience worldwide. The rate of domestic violence remains high in countries like Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and even the Gulf states. More laws and practical measures are needed to put an end to all forms of gender-based violence, eliminate discrimination in personal status matters, and abolish male guardianship (to the men, who are with us today, excuse us), and the men that permit travelling in some Arab countries, let us dream with you.

And if we shift our attention to Afghanistan, the scene is heartbreaking. After women’s struggle and their fight for their rights, the Taliban has returned to banning women’s education and preventing them from working.

There are positive points, and there are negative points.

At the May Chidiac Foundation, through our annual programs and especially through the conference we are holding today, we renew our faith in women, who are capable of overcoming all barriers. We take a new step in our humble journey to support women, who are undoubtedly capable, like men and even more, of making decisions.

As the May Chidiac Foundation has accustomed you, we will share a program full of inspiring stories that open up numerous avenues to success with Her Excellency, the Minister, Najla Manqoush, and Her Excellency, the French Minister of Education, Najat Belkacem among other various stories.

We wish everyone a special and fruitful day with us.

Welcome, everyone, to the Women on the Front Lines MENA Chapter Jordan 2023.

Long live you! Long live the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan! Long live the strong, resilient, mighty, free, shining, and talented Arab women, as they were, as they are today, and as they will always be.

Thank you.


read more: Khasawneh opens 6th ‘Women on Front Lines Conference’ in Jordan

Read more

Meet Our President and Founder Dr. May Chidiac

 Dr. May Chidiac is the President and founder of May Chidiac Foundation- Media Institute (MCF-MI), Head of GROUND-0 Beirut Relief Committee, May Chidiac is a veteran Journalist, an editor, a Radio Host and a news anchor since 1985 with a career spanning for more than 25 years. She fought for the freedom of the Lebanese people when few dared to speak up against the prevailing state of tyranny, through morning political shows. Six months after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, Chidiac was attacked by a car bomb causing her to lose her left leg and arm. She returned to the TV screen in a prime-time political talk show called “With Audacity” from 2006 till 2009.

In parallel, Chidiac published an award-winning book: “Le Ciel M’attendra”, to be followed later on by another prized book “La Télévision Mise à Nu”. She obtained her PhD in “Sciences de L’Information et de la Communication” with high distinction from Université Panthéon -Paris II Assas and also continued her teaching career as Professor of Radio/ TV at Notre Dame University-Louaize till present.

She was also the Head of the Press Division at the Lebanese Embassy in Bern-Switzerland between 1989 and 1990. May Chidiac is the recipient of several Decorations and Medals including the “Chevalier de L’ordre de la Légion D’Honneur”, decorated by the Former President of the French Republic, Jacque Chirac in May 2007 at Elysee Palace, as well as the Medal of “Dame de L’ordre de Saint Gregoire- Le- Grand” awarded by Pope Francis in 2017, that she received by the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Rai in May 2018 at Bkerke.
Throughout her career, Chidiac received numerous international awards and prizes, of which: “Le Prix de la Francophonie pour la Liberté d’Expression”, and the “UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award”.

In October 2006, she was awarded the IWMF (International Women Media Foundation) “Courage in Journalism Award” delivered in Los Angeles, New York and Washington.In 2017 she was the recipient of “Minerva Anna Maria Mammoliti of Human Rights and Civil Rights Award presented in Rome.Dr Chidiac is the member and member of Jury of several organizations as well as vice president such as Member of the “High Panel for Peace and Dialogue of Cultures” UNESCO in 2010, was Honored as part of “She Made it” by the Museum of Television and Radio in 2007 in New York and the Vice president and Jury member of UNESCO for the award of Emir Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah for Empowering People with Disabilities through Digital Technologies since 2016.

She is the Member of Jury at the L’Association des Femmes Leaders Mondial de Monaco in 2017 and was the Moderator in the International Conference on Youth and Information and Communication Technologies Preventing Violent Extremism at Cyberspace UNESCO in Beirut the same year. May Chidiac was a participator in several forums and colloquiums throughout the years, she was the honorary speaker as one of the Guillermo Cano Awardees in Paris in 2006, a keynote speaker and Guest at the Women’s Forum at Deauville- France from 2007 till 2014, a key participant in the UNESCO Global Forum on Media and Gender in Thailand “Documenting Change/Empowering Media- Gender Mainstream in the Media Middle East Report in 2013 as well as an Honorary Guest and Lecturer at the University of Sydney on “The role of Women in The Media” in 2014. She was the participant in the Fourth World Conference on Women:

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: “Enhancing Women’s Share in Peace and Security at the 1325 UN Resolution-Vienna with the Request of the Austrian Parliament in 2015. In regards of the Foundation programs and the academia, Dr Chidiac as president of MCFMI has contributed through her foundation that is dedicated to training, research and educate on issues of Media, and democracy executed several projects on subjects such as GBV in collaboration with UNESCO and currently executing a similar project with UNWomen.

Some of the projects that MCF conducts highlighting women are Women on The Front Lines projects with panels such as “Women Fighters and Survivors of the Iraqi Conflict”, “Mother of Extremists: Stories and Recommendations” and Women of Honor” Heroines of Peace in Times of Conflict.” Politically, Dr. May Chidiac was designated Minister of State for the Administrative Reform in the government of His Excellency the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Saad Hariri.


  • “Le Ciel M’attendra” (Heaven Can Wait) in 2007 awarded the “Prix Vérité” in Le Cannet, France.
  • “La Television Mise à Nu” (Influence of politics on the television scene) in 2014. The book was awarded the “Phoenix Prize” for literature.

Awards and honors

On 27 October 2006 May Chidiac received one of the three Courage in Journalism Awards presented by the International Women’s Media Foundation.

In June 2006, she received the “CRANS Montana Foundation Award” for Freedom of Expression offered by his Royal Highness Prince Albert De Monaco, Monte Carlo.

On 3 May 2006, UNESCO awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to May Chidiac in recognition of her courage in defending and promoting freedom of the press.

In December 2007, May Chidiac was honored in the frame of “She Made It” by the Museum of Television and Radio, New York City.

In April 2006, she received an Honorary Award, presented by his Royal Highness Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

On 3 May 2007, the former French president, Jacques Chirac awarded May Chidiac the Legion of Honour at the Elysée Palace in Paris.Chirac described Chidiac as a “symbol of free speech in Lebanon.”

In March 2008, she was honored as a prominent and audacious figure in politics and journalism during the Olympe De Gouge event, at Montauban France. In December 2010, The “Prix Verité” (“Truth Prize”) was awarded to Chidiac for Le Ciel M’attendra in 2007 in La Ville de Cannet, Cannes, France.

In 2010, Chidiac was named one of the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Heroes.

Chidiac has participated in significant symposiums and colloquiums such as the UN’s Resolution 1325 Symposium in Vienna, the University of Sidney Ideas Talk, the International Press Institute Congress in South Africa and Jordan, UNESCO International Colloquium in Beirut, and UNESCO’s Global Forum on Media and Gender in Thailand, its former Regional Forum for Media Development, as well as its Symposium for Freedom of Expression.

In 2016, Chidiac was awarded with an honorary doctorate from the American University of Science and Technology.

Read more