Lina Abirafeh

Lina Abirafeh
 Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World
My experience and deep interests:
I am based in: London
THNK connection: THNKer , AMS Class 11


I am a feminist activist and accidental academic. I am currently the Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Lebanon. The Institute focuses on advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality through research, education, development programs, and outreach at the national, regional, and international levels. In short, I work at the intersection of academia and activism.


I am Lebanese-Palestinian, Arab-American, and all sorts of hyphenated things. My professional background is in gender issues in development and humanitarian contexts for over 20 years in over 20 countries - Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, amongst others.  Most of my experiences have been focused on ending sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies - conflict, post-conflict, natural disaster – with various UN agencies and international NGOs. See my 2015 TEDx talk for more on my experience.


I completed my doctoral work from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Department of International Development, researching the effects of gender-focused international aid in conflict and post-conflict contexts, with a specific focus on gender-based violence. I published a book based on my research entitled Gender and International Aid in Afghanistan: The Politics and Effects of Intervention. I have also published on a range of gender issues in various books and journals. My most recent articles are on GBV in the region and implications for women in light of the new administration in the US.


I am a member of the advisory boards for several entities including the Forced Migration Review and ABAAD - Resource Center for Gender Equality, a dynamic NGO supporting women across the Arab world.


I want to find new ways to end gender-based violence – engaging non-traditional actors in our collective responsibility: to ensure that women and girls are safe everywhere, all the time. Successes in this field may be too few, but I am committed to fighting what is undoubtedly the worst human rights violation of our time.