Gender Equality in Higher Education and in Leadership Positions with University of London

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A panel discussion on the topic of gender equality was presented to the public by AUT at the initiative of University of London for the 150th anniversary of being the first university in the UK to accept women. The "Worldwide Conversation on Gender Equality" was an occasion to hear women experts in gender equality expose each a different aspect of equality.

AUT, being a Recognized Teaching Center for University of London took on the task of organizing a panel discussion on the topic of gender equality and got the UK Ambassador to offer his patronage to the event and deliver the keynote. The Beirut Bar Association was represented by Nada Talhouk, member of the Board and head of the Training Institute

Five ladies interacted with the audience together with the UK Ambassador and discussed the legal, educational, social, psychological and political facets of gender equality in Lebanon.

After a videotaped word by Mary Stiasny, head of International Programmes at University of London, AUT President Ghada Hinain spoke of what AUT has done to instill values of gender equality in its students. She also spoke of the importance of exposing students to international education as a means to enrich their culture and produce a student profile characterized by critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork skills as well as by a caring attitude towards society. For her equality is natural and the role of educators is to encourage women to reach high positions in any area they operate.

Ambassador Rampling spoke of women access to their full rights in the UK and went over several turning points in this respect, noting that in Lebanon, women have far more rights than in many other countries.

The Minister of Administrative Reform Inaya Ezzeddine spoke of her experience in a leadership position and argued that if women that reach such positions do not affect notable change and widen the way for other women to reach top positions, then their access remains sterile. Reducing corruption, fighting confessionalism and improving management are what women in leadership positions should focus on to show their access had an impact.

Claudine Aoun Roukoz, president of the National Commission for Lebanese Women told the audience on the efforts made with Parliament to pass laws that improve women conditions in the political and social arena. Domestic violence, civil status and other topics directly affecting women rights were the focus of her intervention.

Dr. Leila Saade, president of the Francophone Network of Leading Women in Higher Education gave insightful statistics about the discrimination against women. She argued and showed that women across the Middle East and in France are prevented from reaching university presidency, and prevented from reaching deanship positions in science faculties. France showed a decrease from 12% to 6 % in women university presidents, Lebanon is at 4% and Morocco, Tunisia and other Middle East countries remain under 5%.

The former president of Beirut Bar Association Amal Haddad gave a chronological account of laws passed in favor of women, stressing that the Lebanese Constitution gave equal rights to women but pointed to several gaps that keep women from gaining their full civil rights.

The projection of the image of women in the Lebanese women was the topic addressed by writer and journalist Roula Douglas who pointed that there should be a major effort by Lebanese media to show women under a better light and to fully show their capabilities.
The debate was moderated by AUT professor in Human Rights Celine Merheb.

The suggestions of the panel will be sent to University of London to be shared with all teaching centers across the world.

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