UN Women, the American University of Beirut (AUB), and the Embassy of Canada mark the International Day of the Girl Child with Mentorship Opportunities Between Senior Female Leaders and Afghan Students in Lebanon


[Press release]

Beirut - To mark the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, UN Women, the Education for Leadership in Crisis (ELC) scholarship program at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and the Embassy of Canada to Lebanon came together to kick off a joint mentoring initiative for female and male students from Afghanistan that are enrolled in the ELC program, with support from the US Embassy in Beirut. The initiative aims to complement the significant work all partners are doing to support Lebanese girls within the country.

Starting October 11, and throughout the academic year, female Ambassadors and diplomats to Lebanon are being paired with Afghan predominantly female students with the objective of providing a space for mentorship and solidarity. Mentoring will include engaging the students in field visits, breakfasts, trainings, meetings, and public events, to connect and learn from feminist and female leaders in Lebanon and build bridges based on shared knowledge and experiences. Those participating are: H.E. Chantal Chastenay, Ambassador of Canada, H.E. Dorothy C. Shea, Ambassador of the United States of America, H.E. Tarja Fernandez, Ambassador of Finland, H.E. Marion Weichelt, Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E. Merete Juhl, Ambassador of Demark and Roberta Di Lecce Counselor/Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Italy. From the United Nations, those participating are Najat Rochdi, Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, Rachel Dore-Weeks, Head of UN Women Lebanon, Celine Moyroud, United Nations Development Programme UNDP Resident Representative; Roueida  El Hage, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Representative; Taina Christiansen, UN Habitat Head of Country Programme; Iman Shankiti, WHO representative, Natalie Sarafian, Head of the Resident Coordinator’s Office, Severine Rey, OCHA Head, Yukie Khushvakhtova Mokuo, UNICEF Representative and Asma Kurdahi, Head of UNFPA.

This initiative is grounded in transnational female solidarity, with the aim of serving as one small act of support for Afghan women and girls, and to recognise the importance of education for all women and men, and boys and girls, no matter where they live.

Rachel Dore-Weeks, Head of UN Women in Lebanon, noted “Now more then ever Afghan women and girls need our support and solidarity, not only inside Afghanistan but across the world. With this initiative we hope to reinforce our support for them, to learn from them, and to help them learn more about the situation of women’s rights in Lebanon – connecting them with women’s rights actors across Lebanon.”

Chantal Chastenay, Ambassador of Canada, said, “On the International Day of the Girl, we celebrate the power and potential of girls in Canada and around the world and renew our commitment to build a world where they can all feel safe and empowered”.

American University of Beirut (AUB) President Fadlo R. Khuri, MD commented “This is a very timely initiative as this year marks 100 years of coeducation at AUB. The Education for Leadership in Crisis program marks a continuation and affirmation of our century-long commitment to empowering women. This year of immersive events is therefore a unique opportunity for the ELC scholars to foster connections and benefit from the knowledge and experiences of high-achieving women leaders and diplomats.”

Media Contact:

Roula Rached, UN Women

About the International Day of the Girl Child
On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

In 2021, UN Women is joining other UN agencies, civil society, and girls around the world to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child under the theme "Digital generation. Our generation.” Together, they are calling for equal access to the internet and digital devices for girls’ and targeted investments to facilitate opportunities for girls’ to safely and meaningfully access, use, lead and design technology.

About the Education for Leadership in Crisis Scholarship program (ELC) program
Within the framework of the Education for Leadership in Crisis Scholarship program (ELC) program (https://www.aub.edu.lb/elc/Pages/default.aspx), at the American University of Beirut, the university is hosting 39 female and 3 male students from Afghanistan, for the current academic year. This scholarship program is funded by the United States Department of State. While the majority of these students are enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science, others have joined the School of Business. Given the circumstances of the country that they have left, this initiative aims at helping to welcome these 42 students (39 women and 3 men) to Lebanon through a special empowerment program.