On March 8th, we celebrate the existence, the power, and the resilience of women. International Women’s Day was conceived to continuously raise awareness on women’s rights and equality that have been shadowed for way too long.
Women, to this day, must double their efforts to get to places, be heard, and be taken seriously, especially in Middle Eastern societies. In honor of that, we would like to share the inspiring stories of some Lebanese women who reached success against all odds.
Dania Bdeir is a Lebanese Canadian award-winning writer & director. She has a BA in Graphic Design from the American University of Beirut and an MFA in directing, from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a full scholarship. She is also a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.
Her pre-thesis movie "Meshkal" has traveled to film festivals around the world. It has won a few notable awards including the Award of Excellence at the 2014 Canada International film festival and the Golden Palm at the 2014 Mexico International Film Festival.
Her thesis film, “In White”, which received the Spike Lee Production Fund, won more than 30 awards in film festivals around the world.
In 2019, Dania was selected as a Berlinale Talent and participated in its Short Film Station with her short movie “Warsha”, which had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance International Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize for the Best International Short Film.
Dania, addressing a message to the younger generation of women filmmakers in Lebanon says: “Never stop writing, never stop making films. Nobody writes a perfect script the first time, so basically everybody makes mistakes.” Ending her sentence with: “Don’t hate on your fellow ladies’ filmmakers. Just because there has been a limited amount of seats at the table, it doesn’t mean we can’t change that! We need to give each other support. We need to lift each other up.”
Diane Assaf is a partner at Assaf & Associates Law Firm. She earned her law degree from Université Saint Joseph in Beirut and a master’s degree in Media and Communication Law from Université Paris-2 Pantheon Assas. Prior to joining the firm, she worked at DS Avocats in Paris, and briefly worked at Dewey & LeBeouf in London. After having lost one of her closest friends following the Beirut Port explosion on August 4th, 2020, Diane launched a platform to spread legal awareness. Through this platform, she plays an active role in shedding the light on the flaws of the Lebanese judiciary system. Assaf has been a member of several committees and is currently a member of the Beirut Bar Association legal team, in charge of reviewing the National Action Plan for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Development Program. Diane, sending a message to all the young Lebanese women, says: “Be persistent, be self-confident, and see every challenge you face as an opportunity to move forward. […] I would also advise you to be authentic, every step of the way, and to not waste time looking around you.”
Rebecca Zaatar is a Lebanese designer of womenswear label, Thym, a couture and ready-to-wear clothing brand, that was launched in 2016.
Rebecca developed an interest in fashion from an early age. She graduated from the ESMOD fashion school in Beirut in 2009, she developed her newly acquired design skills at fellow Lebanese designer Elie Saab’s Beirut atelier, in the creative department. In addition to clothing, Thym also offers a range of accessories. Rebecca dressed worldwide celebrities, to count a few: Nour Arida, Christelle Lim, Karen Wazen and Larsen Thompson. Rebecca pushes women to follow their dreams in a quote saying: “Work hard, stay focused, don’t compare yourself to others, take it one step at a time, and don’t try to please everyone along the way. Enjoy your own journey.”