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Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World (Lebanon)


Institute in Lebanon that offers innovative activities and outreach programs pertaining to Arab women and children.

In 1973, the newly coeducational Beirut University College (BUC), which later became the Lebanese American University, founded the Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) through a grant from the Ford Foundation. The dean of BUC, Riyad Nassar, was one of the founding members of the institute. Julinda Abu Nasr, who was the first director of IWSAW and a faculty member at the university, was another founding member.

The main objectives of the institute are to "engage in academic research aimed at the study and support of women's issues and conditions in the Arab world, serve as a data bank and resource center on such subjects, serve as a catalyst for policy changes regarding the human rights of women in the region, and facilitate networking among individuals, groups, institutions and governments concerned with such topics." The institute has embarked on many projects, including research and publication about education, employment, the legal and social status of women, child rearing, literature, art, history, labor conditions, the environment, and the documentation of published and unpublished material about women's issues.

In addition to hosting an annual lecture series, conferences, and workshops, the institute publishes a quarterly journal, al-Raʾida, meaning 'the female pioneer.' Since 1976, al-Raʾida has focused on recording the social, economic, and legal conditions of women in the Arab world. The journal promotes educational outreach efforts to the community and facilitates dialogue on the issues. The institute also produces books, monographs, and studies in English and Arabic.

IWSAW has several outreach programs dealing with academic activities and advocacy. Academic activities offered by the institute include conferences, research, and targeted courses. The institute also houses a library, with a collection of over 6,000 documents, all in the process of being placed on the Internet. Advocacy and action programs include rural development and income-generating projects, basic living skills programs that target illiterate and semiliterate women, and educational lectures on such topics as family planning, child care, rights, nutrition, health, and civic education.

The Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World entered the twenty-first century as an active educational center under the direction of Muna Khalaf, who teaches economics at the university. It has established strong relationships with the community, works with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs, and initiates projects with nongovernmental agencies, local and international.

See also beirut college for women (bcw); gender: gender and education; lebanese civil war (1958); lebanese civil war (19751990); lebanese university; lebanon.


Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World. Available from <>.

Lebanese American University Academic Catalogue 1996. Beirut: Focus Press, 1996.

mirna lattouf

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