New initiative launched in Lebanon for rural women skilled in handicrafts

Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018

Photo credit: The Blessing Foundation/Omar Yaman and  Roger Moussaed

                               The newly created initiative SheMinLebnen, supported by The Blessing Foundation in partnership with UN Women and the UN Global Compact, aims to support rural women skilled in handicrafts to develop their expertise, create products and then sell them in Lebanon and to the world through an online platform.

On May 2, 2018, HE Mr. Saad Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, opened the doors of his office, the Grand Serail, to launch The Blessing Foundation’s initiative SheMinLebnen. This initiative which celebrates the talents of rural women in Lebanon, will provide women with an opportunity to further refine their skills and a platform to market their products in Lebanon and internationally. By working directly with rural women, SheMinLebnen aims to challenge stereotypes, support their economic self-sufficiency and empower women to bring about positive change in their communities.

The name of the initiative, SheMinLebnen is a combination of both Arabic and English; the word "She" refers to a woman or a girl in English and also means “something” in Arabic. SheMinLebnen therefore could mean “Something from Lebanon” or “She is from Lebanon”, and, in both cases, it champions Lebanese women’s identity and creativity. The energetic and talented rural women who will be selected to participate in this initiative will benefit from mentorship by five internationally-renowned Lebanese designers - namely Reem Acra, Samer Alameen, Nada Debs, Rabih Kayrouz and Raouf Rifai. With the support of these mentors, the participants will be able to refine their design and production skills, upgrade their creations, and make them marketable to a wider audience.

Photo credit: The Blessing Foundation/Omar Yaman and  Roger Moussaed

                                             The Blessing Foundation event was organized in partnership with the Government of Lebanon, UN Women and with the support of the UN Global Compact Network Lebanon (GCNL). The launch brought together Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, Ministry Directors-General, and representatives of the United Nations, including Mr. Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women for the Arab States, and Ms. Begona Lasagabaster, Special Representative of the UN Women Regional Director in Lebanon, as well as representatives of other international organizations, diplomats and members of civil society organizations and academia.

To mark the occasion, the national anthem was performed by the all-women “Hunna Symphony Orchestra”. In his opening address to the invited guests, HE the Prime Minister noted that the Office of the Minister of State for Women's Affairs has contributed to enhance women’s role in Lebanon since its establishment around one and a half years’ ago. HE the Prime Minister reaffirmed that “we will pursue the collaboration with His Excellency the President [of Lebanon], with the current cabinet, and with future governments to achieve goals related to women’s rights."

Photo credit: The Blessing Foundation/Omar Yaman and  Roger Moussaed

Speaking at the launch, Ms. Rima Koteich Al-Husseini, founder of The Blessing Foundation, introduced the objectives of the SheMinLebnen initiative https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tEGGW-cJuE and the partnership with UN Women. She said that this initiative provides women with the best artistic and professional guidance to create products with distinctive designs and eventually sell them through the website Sheminlebnen.com.  

Mr. Mohammad Naciri, UN Women Regional Director said “This is indeed a positive step in realizing the ambitious reform agenda of Lebanon, and confirms the commitment, at the highest level, to gender equality and the empowerment of women”. He added “UN Women together with our partners, are working towards economically empowering women and girls. We thank the Prime Minister and Government of Lebanon for its forward thinking in stimulating equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs”.  

The Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network Lebanon, Ms. Dina Harake, said “the UN Global Compact Network Lebanon (https://www.unglobalcompact.org/engage-locally/mena/lebanon) is composed of 160 commercial and non-commercial institutions…this platform aims to encourage them to disseminate universal principles to promote the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.