TL Gender Scholars Program (TLS)

Tomorrow’s Leaders Gender Scholars on Tackling Gender Inequality During Times of Crises

Format: In-person

Location/Date: AKSOB903, Beirut Campus / May 29, 2024

LAU MEPI TLS is pleased to announce its Fourth Annual 2023-24 conference that will coincide with the LAU’s Centennial.

The LAU MEPI-TLS team will hold an end-of-the-year academic conference to wrap up the fourth MEPI-TLS student cohort’s completion of two gender courses, experiential learning, advocacy, and policy research paper writing.

Collaboration: The MEPI-TLS team is happy to work in tandem with the AiW to celebrate 50 years of pioneering work, advocating for and advancing gender equality while working at the intersection of academia and activism to generate research and policies that promote positive transformative change.

Our TLS students have been focusing on different research outputs and scholarly work emphasizing the significance of getting women’s and marginalized communities’ issues on the agenda of governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

By focusing on economic, social, psychological, and political issues from a gendered perspective our students—through their policy papers, projects, performances, and stories—strive to be intersectional and inclusive in their quest to shed light on gender justice concerns, and the importance of working on the sustainable development goals as an entry to countering gender inequality. 

Conference Objectives

This conference will be an opportunity to reflect on student achievements and accomplishments throughout their year as TLS scholars, particularly to:

Steering Committee

Dr. Lina Kreidie
LAU-MEPI TLS Academic Director
Coordinator, MA in Intersectional Gender Studies

Dr. Kreidie is a political psychologist and a research consultant on Women’s Empowerment. Kreidie oversees and coordinates TLS course delivery, student progress, and attainment of MEPI-TLS academic goals. She is an advisor and consultant for Intisar Foundation-NGO as well as a member of the Harris Council University of Chicago Harris School for Public Policy. Kreidie holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of CA, Irvine. 

Dr. Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss
Director, Title IX - Equity & Inclusion
LAU-MEPI TL Gender Expert

Dr. Skulte-Ouaiss is committed to gender equity and to eliminating discrimination in its many forms. She seeks to build networks of champions for equity and inclusion among students, staff, and faculty at LAU. In addition, she works to help the university live up to its founding promise to provide a unique educational environment for women as well as its current commitment to academic excellence, student-centeredness, civic engagement, the advancement of scholarship, the education of the whole person, and the formation of leaders in a diverse world. Her research and advocacy work focuses on gender and politics as well as migration and (in)security. Dr. Skulte-Ouaiss received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Maryland in the United States.

Ms. Myriam Sfeir
Senior Director of the Arab Institute for Women

Ms. Myriam Sfeir is the Senior Director of the Arab Institute for Women (AiW) at the Lebanese American University. Previously she served as senior managing editor of Al-Raida, the double-blind peer-reviewed journal published by AiW. She has over twenty-five years of experience working in the area of women’s rights and gender equality and ample experience doing research, expert analysis, training, and teaching. She is an authority on the women’s movement in Lebanon and has worked extensively on several groundbreaking projects related to oral history, movement building, and marginalized groups and has organized several international and regional conferences, film festivals, and panels that address gender rights and justice. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the American University of Beirut and her Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Ms. Dina Abdul Rahman
Executive Director, LAU-MEPI TL Program
International Services and Programs Office, LAU

Ms. Dina Abdul Rahman joined LAU in 2007. Through her rewarding professional journey within SDEM, she established the International Services and Programs Office (ISP) in 2016 within which falls the LAU MEPI-TL Programs. Abdul Rahman is the LAU MEPI TL Executive Director. She oversees the strategic planning and implementation of the TL programs at LAU, coordinates with the Board of Program Directors, and manages the programs’ reporting and budgeting. Abdul Rahman is an AUB alumnus with an MBA from LAU, and is currently pursuing her EdD in Educational Leadership at VCU.

About the Organizing Committee

MEPI Tomorrow’s Leaders Gender Scholars Program (TLS)

Tomorrow’s Leaders Gender Scholars Program (TLS) is fully funded by the United States Department of State - Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The program aims to fortify existing networks in gender studies curriculum and to foster a cross-disciplinary culture of gender mainstreaming in coursework among undergraduate students.

TLS is a one-of-a-kind program:

The Arab Institute for Women

The Arab Institute for Women (AiW), previously known as the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW), was established in 1973, building upon the Lebanese American University’s rich history as a school for women. At that time, it was the first such institute in the Arab world and it remains the only one of its kind in Lebanon. It is also among the first globally. The Institute advances women’s empowerment and gender equality nationally, regionally and globally through research, education, development programs, and outreach. AiW works at the intersection of academia and activism.

Student Abstract Review and Selection

TLS students were invited to submit oral presentations, posters, and artistic submission abstracts reflecting on topics that cover themes related to TLS gender courses. The abstract selection criteria were based on an issue or a problem being presented, the significance of the student work, originality, methodology of research, and the proposed solutions (if applicable).
Two panels and one debate were created allowing students to showcase their distinctive work and research on different aspects relating to gender. In each panel, there will be four students presenting on one of the gender-related themes for a total period of 30 minutes. Expert reviewers assessed the received abstracts and selected the top abstracts for oral presentation. 

Reviews and/or Experts Bios

Dr. Lina Abi Rafeh

Lina Abi Rafeh, PhD is a global women’s rights expert and gender equality advocate with decades of experience worldwide. Lina worked for over 20 years in development and humanitarian contexts in Afghanistan, Haiti, Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea, and others. Her experience spans global organizations such as the World Bank and various United Nations agencies. Lina advises several organizations and companies at a senior level. In addition, she is also the Senior Advisor for Global Women’s Rights at the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, where she served as Executive Director for seven years.      

Lina has shared her passion and experience in ending violence against women on global stages including her TEDx talk, WomenDeliver PowerTalkkeynote address for Swedish International Development Agency annual meeting, amongst others.

Lina completed her doctoral work from the London School of Economics and published “Gender and International Aid in Afghanistan: The Politics and Effects of Intervention” in 2009, based on her PhD research. Her second book “Freedom on the Frontlines: Afghan Women and the Fallacy of Liberation” was released in February 2022.

Ms. Stephanie Chaban

Stephanie Chaban is currently a Social Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in Beirut, Lebanon where she provides gender analysis, intergovernmental support, and technical assistance to Arab States on a range issue, including enabling gender justice, responding to violence against women, and implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda. As part of her work, she has produced reports, policy briefs and other relevant materials, including groundbreaking analysis of domestic violence legislation, protection orders, domestic violence shelters and referral systems in the Arab region. Prior to ESCWA, she worked on gender equality concerns and gender-based violence in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Stephanie has a PhD in Law from the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University, and a MA in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University.

Honorary Guest Speaker

Dr. Zeina Mohanna
Executive and Administrative Board Member of Amel Association International

Dr. Mohanna’s work includes more than 20 years of humanitarian support through strategic planning, policy advocacy, research including the support to migrants, refugees, counter-trafficking, youth leadership, women’s empowerment, among others. She is also a University Professor at the Political Sciences and Public Administration Department, at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Zeina holds a PhD in Political Studies on ‘Citizenship and Human Rights in Lebanon’, and received a scholarship for a programme on forced migration from Oxford University, worked and consulted for the United Nations for some time. She is also a founding member of the NGO Ibtissama, Board Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of MUBS university, Education consultant for the Lebanese Union for Child care, and President of the Middle Eastern Chapter of the Stars Foundation based in Switzerland. Her long experience in the developmental field includes working and consulting to United Nations agencies as IOM, UNFPA and OHCHR, AUB, Amel Association International of various Civil Society members and decision makers.  She is currently working on migration issues, youth empowerment and counter-trafficking She is a member in the Administrative and Executive Boards of Amel Association International; a founding member of Ibtissama NGO, and the President of in the Middle Eastern Chapter of the Stars Foundation.

Ceremony Hosts

Mr. Alex Ziade
TLS Alumnus, currently pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering

Alex Ziade is a TLS alumnus at Lebanese American University. He has not graduated yet and is now pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He started his journey at school Antonine Sisters- Ghazir, where he got a high school degree in General Sciences. Then he decided to get his undergraduate education from LAU after getting a free application and a scholarship due to his outstanding high school grades. Fortunately, while continuing his studies at LAU he was offered a variety of opportunities. One of them was being part of the MEPI TLS program. “This program, with no doubt, had a great influence on me, where it helped me view the world in a lens I have never experienced before, the gender lens” expressed Alex.

He also participated in a variety of internships at prestigious companies including: ASSAS, Edarat, Middle East Airlines, Alamaza and Zeeni Trading Agency.

Alex is expecting to graduate from LAU in the upcoming semester and planning to continue his educational journey.

Panel Discussion Moderators

Dr. Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss

Ms. Rita Barotta
LAU-MEPI TLS Instructor 

Ms. Rita Barotta is a faculty member at the Lebanese American University (LAU)- Byblos Campus, where she teaches Fundamentals of Gender Discrimination, Gender in Negotiation Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and Gender in the Workplace.
She is a PhD candidate at St. Joseph University (awaiting defense), specializing in Humanities with a focus on gender and sexuality.
Ms. Barotta holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2- France) and a BA in Journalism from the Lebanese University (LU).
She has a total of 14 years of expertise in the field of Higher Education.
She is an advocate for women’s and minorities’ rights and is a founding member of the first collective feminist library in Baalbeck.
She is a writer and a researcher, specializing in feminist writings, sexuality, and discourse.

Oral Presentations

Student Presenters Title of the Papers
Elie El Hayek (major: Biology) “Integration of Gender Perspectives in Humanitarian Assistance in the Israeli-Hamas Conflict”
Laetitia Merhi (major: Political Science/ International Affairs) “International Selectivity: The Relationship between R2P and WPS in the Context of the Gaza War”
Sara Hemadneh (major: Political Science/ International Affairs) “Where Are the Women on the Peace Tables? “Addressing Gaps in UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Challenges and Prospects for Implementation in the Middle East”
Farah Al Aridi (major: Biology) “The Role of Women in Shaping Iranian Politics”


Student Presenters Title of the Papers
Romi Jbeily (major: Biology) “The effects of economic collapse: working men as perpetrators of gender-based violence against women and girls in rural Lebanon”
Syntia Salha (major: Mechatronics Engineering) “Tackling the Gender Pay Gap in Lebanese Football Amid Crisis”
Jhonny Harb (major: Industrial Engineering) “Empowering Resilience: Lebanese Women’s Side Hustles Amidst Economic Crisis and Gender Inequality”
Zeinab Farhat (major: Biology) “A Critical Examination into the attitudes of Lebanese Women towards their Reproductive and Sexual Health”


Angelica Sahli Sara Hemadneh
Moustafa Al Hajj Farah Al Aridi
Hasan Diab Zahra Harb

Poster Presentations

Student abstracts that were not chosen for the oral presentation were nevertheless also impactful. Women’s political representation in parliament, the participation of women in decision-making, the gender gap, the women and security agenda, and the absence of women in particularly vulnerable areas were among the subjects addressed. Some students also discussed women’s depiction in the MENA media, and women as powerful peacemakers. Students prepared the following poster presentations of their research:

# Student Presenters Title of Posters
1 Charbel Karam (major: Mechanical Engineering

Navigating Symbolic Violence: The Plight of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon Amidst the Economic Crisis

2 Dana Tfaili (major: Biology)

Breaking Cultural Norms: Honor-Based Crimes Unveiled in Lebanon

3 Karen Khalife (major: Business

Faith and Women’s Rights: Challenging Patriarchy in Religion’s Interpretation

4 Mohammad Saifan (major: Industrial Engineering The Role of Syrian Female Refugee Leaders in Technology: Resolving Conflicts in Lebanon
5 Moustapha Fadli (major: Communication Representation of Gender minorities on magazine covers in the Swana Region
6 Nareg Assadourian (major: Biology

Gender Inequalities in Basketball: Time to Call for A Time-Out?

7 Renee Ouslati (major: Psychology Through the Freudian lens: gender differences in the psychoanalytical approach 
8 Samir Abi Rached (major: Biology

Parental Leave Policies: Shaping Work-Life Balance and Gender Roles

9 Zahraa Harb (major: Psychology) The Gendered Paradox: Women Peacebuilding in South Sudan during rampant systemic sexual violence in Sudan’s intersectional conflict
10 Hasan Diab (major: Computer Science) Perpetual Cycle of Exploitation: The Need for Policy Reform and the Abolition of the Sex Trade
11 Maya Hamadeh (major: Multimedia- Journalism) “The Impact of the War on Gaza on Child and Maternal Health”
12 Moustapha El Haj (major: Computer Science) “Gendered Power Dynamics in Political Leadership: Addressing Barriers to Women’s Representation in Arab Governments”
13 Hillary Tannous (major: Computer Engineering) “A way to Lebanon’s economic growth: addressing gender discrimination among working mothers”

End of Year Annual Conference Program

End of Year Annual Conference Program:
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

2:00 – 2:20 pm

National Anthems – Lebanon & United States of America

Welcome notes
- Dr. Michel E. Mawad – President, LAU
- Ms. Amanda Pilz – Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Beirut

2:20 – 2:45 pm
About Tomorrow’s Leaders Gender Scholars Program (TLS)
Dr. Lina Kreidie – MEPI-TLS Academic Director, LAU
- Ms. Myriam Sfeir – Senior Director, Arab Institute for Women (AiW), LAU

2:45 – 3:00 pm

Honorary Keynote Speaker
- Dr. Zeina Mohanna – Executive and Administrative Board Member of Amel Association International

Group Photo

3:00 – 3:30 pm

Panel 1: Gender and the Politics of Selective Humanitarian Assistance
Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss – Director, Title IX - Equity & Inclusion MEPI TL Gender Expert, LAU
(30 minutes)
Poster Presentations

4:00 – 4:30 pm

Panel 2:  Gender and Intersectionality
Moderator: Ms. Rita Barotta  MEPI TLS Instructor, LAU

4:30 – 5:00 pm

Debate: “International law and human rights mechanisms are beneficial during times of crisis”
Moderator: Dr. Lina Kreidie – MEPI TLS Academic Director, LAU
5:00 pm Closing remarks
Distribution of Certificates