Most Powerful Lebanese Woman 2008

Most Powerful Lebanese Woman 2008

Most Powerful Lebanese Woman 2008.

Here is an overview of how the study of the most influential Lebanese women of the year was conducted.

Prior to designating the final winners, an exhaustive year-round research was carried out. Multiple assessment techniques were used to monitor the media and public opinion, so as to pin down deserving candidates for the year. Their various proficiencies and leadership qualities (fitted with according coefficients) were then rated and compared.

Constituents for “The Most Powerful Lebanese Woman” title included:
• Charismatic inspiration
• Courage and determination
• Visibility
• Sense of purpose/ Dedication
• Sense of Justice
• Competence, skills and knowledge
• Clear vision and objectives
• Communication skills
• Effort and sacrifice
• Power to influence and promote change
• Enthusiasm and Passion
• Empathy and understanding
• Awareness of environment
• Proactive -Effectiveness of actions/choices taken
• Representativeness
• Credibility and Integrity
• Optimism/Risk taking
• Cooperation/ Team building leadership trait
• Achievements
• Economic impact

The final study was prepared based on a weighted average relating two factors:
1- Public opinion gathered for the survey
2- Actual merits of each eligible personality (appraised by specialists with the help of the Lebawards committee).

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the results are reflective of events and activities that occurred in 2008 and do not constitute an absolute evaluation. Also, the contenders’ strengths had to be in correlation with Lebanon. Therefore, most powerful women of the world from Lebanese descent scored poorly and did not qualify for the title.

Official winners for 2008

1The Most Powerful Lebanese Woman for 2008 is activist Sylvana Lakkis, member of the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union. Sylvana embodies the voice of reason in a country that sometimes resembles a jungle full of “Lebanimals" armed with rusted auto-destructive values, and still living in the middle ages. She headed the airport roadside protest that escorted our politicians, right before their departure to Doha, warning them not to come back without an agreement! The protestors' striking image, many of whom disfigured during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, and the simple power of their words resonated with the widespread frustration and growing anger of most Lebanese back then. Analysts believe this might have played a catalytic role, even if only partially, to the Doha accord (...and so we like to believe! Call us desperate romantics). Her appearance with Zaven on Future TV this year also had a great impact on the spectators, underlined by her sincere invitation for them to undergo a thorough introspection. She presented such deep universal values at such crucial moments of turmoil that poor Zaven couldn't begin to grasp the importance of what was going on right then on his TV show. Sylvana argues most people know deep inside them that the only way to put an end to all these continuous problems in Lebanon is to establish a non-confessional structure. She adds, our individual rights should always override those of our confessions. She blames the Lebanese, who vote on a purely confessional-intolerant basis without considering the implications of such an act. Sylvana is truly inspirational and a definite role model, not just to the differently-abled but to all of us.

2Ms Leila Ghanem (Lilia Ghanem) from the Alternatives World Forum, co-organizer and coordinator of the International Citizens Tribunal, came in 2nd position. Ghanem is the Editor-in-Chief of Bada’el (Alternatives, “The Arab Ecologist”) and President of ADEMA Paris. She took part in the creation of the World Conscience Tribunal on the crimes committed by the Israeli army (IDF) in Lebanon, which was held in Brussels Belgium, on February 22-24, 2008. It regrouped more than 250 members of the international civil society, and was headed by a four-member jury of distinguished legal officials from around the globe, which had the opportunity to hear and consider the moving testimonies of the victims, their relatives and other witnesses and specialists. The International Citizens Tribunal issued a verdict on the human, economic, social, environmental, psychological, and cultural damages done by the Israeli forces on Lebanon in July 2006, and found Israel guilty of international crimes including "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide! This tribunal provided some small degree of justice to the victims of Israeli war crimes, when no other international institution had the courage or conscience to stand up to the aggressions of the Zionist state and its allies. Through expert witnesses, the prosecutors also showed that Israel used prohibited weapons, such as uranium-cased bunker busters and thermo-baric weapons, and those prohibited against civilians, such as cluster bombs. The Israeli military was apparently testing new weapons on the Lebanese they killed and mutilated. More than 1,200 people in Lebanon were killed, the great majority of them civilians, including many children.

3Few women in the world, let alone in Lebanon have the courage and determination of May Khansa (May el Khansa), holder of the third position for the second year consecutively. Provoked by the disrespectful and arrogant behaviour of the US Chargé d'Affaires Michel Sisson (before she became ambassador), lawyer and activist May al Khansa was bold enough to actually file a law suit against her! Picture this surreal scene; a simple Lebanese woman bravely facing the globe's merciless hegemony that only comprehends its personal interests in the world (embodied by Sisson), with just a bunch of miserable laws at hand as her only weapon. The mere tough of doing something this unconventional is enough to put this anti-imperialist on the league of Icons in the Free World. The filed charges against "Sessoun" (like she has been so often referred to) include: crime of financing terrorism, infringement of the state’s stature,and breach of the Lebanese Constitution, just to mention a few from the long list. It's to be noted that Khansa has also previously sued Samir Geagea, on behalf of victims of war crimes and their relatives.

4Ms. Leila Al Solh Hamadeh came in 4th position. Under her patronage, many important developmental projects were carried out all over Lebanon. She is at the top of a huge empire that equally adheres wealth (mostly from Saudi petro-dollars) and high social standing due to her ties with the historic figure Riad El Solh. Her name came up this year as a serious candidate for the seat of Prime Minister. Until now her intentions appear to be solely patriotic and humanitarian. Only time will reveal her directions in life.

5Journalist Ghada Eid came in 5th position. Ghada is still strongly committed to fighting corruption in Lebanon through her TV show Al Fassad. Nothing stands in her way; neither risky taboo subjects, nor dangerous threats by Lebanese mafias. It's to be noted that Ghada was winner of the title in 2006, and has been at the top of our list ever since.

6Lina Murr Nehme also known as (Lina Murr Nehmé) , author of infamous books such as "Le Liban Assassiné" or "Les Otages Libanais dans les Prisons Syriennes", came in 6th position on our list. Lina is undergoing a battle on the moral and spiritual levels so as to unite the Lebanese on steady grounds; a battle for people to be finally happy, to get closure and justice...a battle for truth. She assures deep scars will not heal without thorough cleansing. Unity cannot be achieved on lies. Her dossiers are often enriched with startling testimonies gathered with great care, and packed with valuable facts seldom ignored by the general public. In her last book “Lebanese Hostages in Syrian Prisons, For When?”, she reverberates the pain of the Lebanese detainees in Syria and the sufferings of their hopeless families in Lebanon. She calls upon the international community for an immediate intervention and for the excavation of all the mass graves in Lebanon, to the disenchantment of ex –warlords with blood on their hands. Lina Murr has been boycotted for her defiant views by many media sources, which cannot tolerate the truth! Still, she manages to get her voice heard, thanks to her insatiable convictions and strong determination.

7Vera Yammine, holder of last year's title, is in 7th position for this year. She has taken accelerated steps on the political arena and has surpassed many existing figures in a record time! Vera is one of the few female politicians in Lebanon to have made it on her own with her own skills and personal input. When the quota issue was brought up, the name that circulated the most on discussion forums and online blogs was no other than that of Vera Yammine. Quota or no quota, we are expecting this charismatic woman to take part in the upcoming elections, and to definitely win an official seat in parliament. Or better yet, land a ministerial position. Vera Yammine is truly a remarkable woman, and the perfect archetype of a powerful Lebanese woman.

8Activist Linda Matar stands in 8th position. She is one of the pioneer leaders and presidents of the Lebanese Council of Women , an executive member of the Lebanese Economic and Social Council, and the president of the Lebanese Women Committee. Her continuous battle against social injustice, and her everlasting involvement in women issues and women rights, all contribute to her militant image. If you missed the Suffragettes movement at the beginning of the XXs century (which you most likely have), then Linda Mattar is here to give you a taste of that historical time. Her contributions to the Lebanese society at large and to that of women of Lebanon precisely are immense. President of the Lebanese Commission for Women’s Rights, she played a prominent role in changing laws related to women, such as the maternity leave. She was also one of the first women’s rights practitioners to have brought up the issue of the women quota in parliament, when the matter was still completely disregarded by the media and by our officials alike. Mrs. Linda Matar has taken part in more than 50 Arab and international conferences, including the Beijing Conference.

9Along the same model, the 9th position this year is shared by three other very visible activists with similar profiles and same overall rating:
a) Asma Hmade, of the Lebanese Women Committee. The committee has helped change many laws for the benefit of women in Lebanon.

b) Ikbal elShayeb (Al-Shaieb)Ghanem from the Lebanese Council of Women. The LCW is a coalition of major Lebanese women’s groups, and works on improving women conditions in the Lebanese society by mobilizing its several thousands members. They seek women empowerment, social awareness, and the ratification of laws to guarantee gender equity. Incidentally, they have actively lobbied for the instauration of the women quota in parliament.

c) Lawyer Brigitte Chelebian, member of CICC (Coalition for the International Criminal Court).She worked on the adhesion of Lebanon and the Middle East to this international criminal court that deals with crimes against humanity, war crimes and other legal issues. Chelebian is part of the Justice without Frontiers organization in Lebanon.

10Last but not least, in 10th position we have the fascinating Sonia Frangieh el Rassi. She has this intriguing duality in her personality that charms and captivates the audience. Her motherly ways with her regular “ya ibni” or “ya binty” make her so accessible. But don’t be fooled by her affectionate habits. Behind that irresistible sweetness and warm deep voice of hers hides a woman with an iron fist. She is not afraid to speak her mind even if that would upset the pope! She has an aristocratic flair, proof of her Al Frangieh blood lineage, which is balanced out by a more pragmatic approach, and a friendly or “salon-like” dialogue. This is perhaps why most people can relate to her with great ease, and perceive her as a leader. In a way, she speaks the people's language. We would like to see much more of this charismatic woman in televised talk shows in the near future.


This year, the honorary title of most powerful Lebanese woman went to the departed May el Murr for her life’s work and contributions collectively. This exceptional woman of multi-facets cannot be easily labelled; she is a historian, a poet, a journalist, a theologian and even a philosopher in her own way...and most of all, a proud Lebanese! The valuable research she left us will surely be an unlimited resource for future generations to dip in. She approached long established theories and historical “facts” with a new angle and shed light on their flaws and shortcomings, collapsing them over the heads of all those who naively adopted them without further questioning. Although she followed her instincts in creating her theories throughout her work, nothing was left without solid proof or convincing arguments. The information she brought forward was always well-built with insightful and profound analysis that could only come from a scholar with a pure ethical sense. She made it her duty to give back to Lebanon all the credit that was robbed with time. According to the controversial May el Murr, the Olympic Games have Phoenician ancestry, Cannae of Galilee is located in the south of Lebanon, Mary’s origins are Lebanese, and the most sizzling religious claim of all: if the Garden of Eden ever existed then it is precisely in Ehden-Lebanon (thus the name)! She prompted shock waves after shock waves into the serene environment of orthodox concepts, swirling up grand debates that shook the world’s conventional historians off their decaying seats. The essence of May el Murr can be summed up by the following thought: Simply because something has been believed to be true for a very long time doesn’t make it so. Even though something is being taught in colleges throughout the world, it doesn’t mean that in one fell swoop it cannot be disproved. We shall truly miss her, God rest her soul.

PS: We received many other nominations of deserving Lebanese women, but unfortunately they didn’t make it to the top 10 list for various reasons (refer to our well elaborated process in the final selection). For those who didn’t see their favoured nominees on our list for this year, stick around for next year’s award :) We also truly thank all those who helped us complete this study.

comments powered by Disqus

This Article was prepared by
All copyrights are reserved to the Author of the Article