I am a feminist activist and accidental academic. I am currently the Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women (AiW) at the Lebanese American University – based in New York and Lebanon. The Institute focuses on advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality through research, education, development programs, and outreach regionally and globally. 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. In 2018, I was listed as one of the Gender Equality Top 100: The Most Influential People in Global Policy – one of only two Arabs to make the list.
I want to find new ways to end violence against women – 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.