Bahia Hariri (Bahiyya Hariri) – Lebanon


She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Bahia Hariri is a Lebanese politician and sister of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. (

She says: “Education is a national developmental prerequisite. Human resources in the Arab world are our greatest asset. Building a brighter future is subject to enhancing educational and cultural status”.

She emphasized: “The condition of Arab women and the question of democracy are the weakest link in our society. Much work is required and the road to development and prosperity for all is a long one”. (both on 1000PeaceWomen).

Bahia Hariri - Lebanon two.jpg

Bahia Hariri (Bahiyya Hariri) – Lebanon

She works for the Lebanese Parliament, for the Hariri Foundation,
and for the Arab Network for NGOs (ANNGOs).

Bahia Hariri (born 1952) is one of only three women of 128 Lebanese Ministers of Parliament. Her high profile as head of the Commission for Education and Culture (CEC) in Lebanon placed her at the forefront of fighting for the preservation of Lebanese cultural heritage. In recognition of her work on cultural issues, Bahia Hariri held many international posts, such as the Unesco Goodwill Ambassador in 2000, membership of the committee of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNoWB) and Head of the Women’s Committee in the Arab Parliamentarian Union (HWCAPU).

April 13th 1975 is considered by many to be the day that the Lebanese civil war began. For 15 years the country and its capital lay divided along sectarian lines, and not until the Ta’if peace agreement of 1991 was some semblance of peace restored to the country. The emerging political leadership in the country was, however, almost entirely male dominated, with Bahia Hariri serving as one of only three women post-war MPs (out of 128). Mrs. Hariri has remained in the Lebanese Parliament to date, representing her home city of Sidon.

As the 30th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War approaches and the country remains gripped with tension following the assassination of her brother, Rafeeq al-Hariri, former Lebanese Prime Minister, Mrs. Hariri has called for a festival of ‘peace and unity’ to honour one of the darkest days in Lebanon’s modern history, saying that ‘For all the hardships that we have been through, and in order to remember but never to forget, we want this day to be a day for national unity and freedom’.

Recognizing the importance and significance of the day for Lebanon and the region, she called on ‘the pioneers of freedom and national unity, such as Nelson Mandela, Sonja Ghandi and Corazon Aquino, and all the pioneers throughout the Arab region and the world to join us in our day of freedom and solidarity’.

Mrs. Hariri’s leadership skills and commitment to peace are well known throughout the Arab region. She has parlayed her position as one of only three women MPs in Lebanon – and through her experience as head of the Education Committee – into a role within the Arab Parliament.
She is the founder of the Women’s Committee at the Arab Parliament Union, a body that brings women politicians from across the Arab world together in a Parliamentary forum.

Mrs. Hariri has also established the Arab Women’s Summit – supported by the Hariri Foundation with which she serves as Director – aimed at coordinating policies concernng Arab women.

The success of the bi-annual Summit has inspired Mrs. Hariri to push for an Arab Women’s Organization (AWO). If realized, the AWO would be the first of its kind in the Arab world. On the national level, she has been instrumental in advancing the educational opportunities for young women in Lebanon. Whether through her position as Director of the Hariri foundation or as Chair of the Parliamentary Education Committee, she has worked for more than 13 years on a wide range of issues related to women and education in Lebanon.

In a speech at a conference entitled ‘Women and Education in Lebanon’, Mrs. Hariri was frank in her assessment of the state of women education in the Arab world: ‘Education is a human right and a basic means of achieving the aims of equality, development and peace. Yet societies in the Arab world still suffer from the problem of illiteracy in general and among women, in particular’.

The problems and strategies articulated in this speech have informed much of her work in the area of education, particularly with regards to universal education, literacy training and equal opportunities to education. It is these goals that Mrs. Hariri has worked so hard for both in Lebanon and the entire Arab world.

Outside of Parliament, Mrs. Hariri has been active with the Hariri Foundation since 1979, of which she is now Director. The mission of the Foundation is to prioritize the education of young Lebanese as a key tool for the country’s development. In pursuit of this goal, it has opened up offices throughout Lebanon and much of Western Europe and North America in an attempt to reach out to Lebanese throughout the country and indeed the entire world. Whether through language training or financial support for higher education, the Foundation helps young Lebanese around the world further their education. To date, the Foundation has supported more than 30,000 students internationally since 1979. The Foundation’s motto is in many ways related to Mrs. Hariri’s own personal work: ‘Lebanon’s future stands on its human resources’.

The development of human resources has been an integral aspect of Mrs. Hariri’s work towards peace and development in her country and throughout the world. Despite her stature within Lebanon, Mrs. Hariri is widely known throughout the world as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
Upon accepting the nomination Mrs. Hariri commented on how this post opened up a new avenue of more prospects for her, and would allow her to expand her activities related to the preservation of cultural heritage.

The nomination for the UNESCO post was not simply recognition of Mrs. Hariri’s work towards peace and women’s issues, but an acknowledgment of her commitment to the preservation of the cultural heritage of her city, Sidon, which is home to many of Lebanon’s most historic sites.

Whether as a result of the Israeli destruction or the wear and tear of time, much of Sidon’s cultural sites have been badly damaged and in need of restoration. Mrs. Hariri, through her work with the Hariri Foundation, the Lebanese Parliament and some local non-governmental organizations has ensured the awareness to maintain and restore the beautiful sites of Sidon.

Perhaps most amazing about her work was her ability to bring in a host of international organizations and individuals to the renovation projects, ensuring a flow of collaboration and assistance coming through from Europe, especially from England and France. Mrs. Hariri’s strategies in helping preserve the cultural heritage of her city are indicative of the kind of team-building and networking skills that are so important to her commitment to peace and women’s issues.

It is this dedication and networking that has made the Hariri Foundation such an amazing tool for furthering education in Lebanon and fostering an educated population.

Her commitment to Lebanese youth is likely best exemplified by a friend of hers who said, ‘Bahia Hariri seems to work about seven days a week to make Lebanon a better place for its children’.

Many inspiring and telling stories about Mrs. Hariri’s work come from the Hariri Foundation’s annual summer camp. Each year children in Lebanon gather together in a summer camp that provides services to over 2000 children aged between 6 and 12. The campers are brought from all parts of Southern Lebanon and come from all different religious and socio-economic backgrounds.

For a period of ten days, the Hariri Foundation host those children and engage them in programs of productive activities aimed at strengthening their social skills and enhancing their hobbies. In one year, the theme of the camp addressed the issue of Citizenship. When one camper, aged 12, was asked why citizenship was important, he replied, ‘So that peace comes over us’.

Perhaps of all Mrs. Hariri’s past, present and future accomplishments, this will stand as one of the most rewarding for all of us. (1000PeaceWomen).

The reopening will “demonstrate that the Lebanese will never surrender”, says southern MP Bahia Hariri, whose wealthy family has financed much of the bridge rebuilding in the region. (full text).

See pictures of the 24 hours of April 13th with Bahia Hariri.

Bahia Hariri has long been a highly active personality in Lebanese political life. A parliamentary deputy and President of the Parliamentary Commission for Culture and Education, she is also involved in regional politics as the Vice-President of the Commission for Women at the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union. Bahia Hariri was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in November 2000. Deeply concerned about the preservation of historical heritage, she has campaigned on behalf of the inscription of the temple of Echmoun in the ancient city of Saida as a UNESCO World Heritage site. She initiated a local UNESCO seminar, focusing on finding ways to balance urban development with cultural and ecological preservation. A dedicated champion of woman’s rights, Bahia Hariri has consistently promoted the status of women in Arab society, campaigning for the adoption of laws protecting women and contributing to their emancipation. (portal unesco).

See picture of the nomination ceremony of Mrs Bahia Hariri as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on November 2000 at UNESCO Headquarters.

Bahia Hariri, the ex-Premier’s sister who is a member of parliament, stole the hearts of the Lebanese when she took the makeshift podium to address her slain brother at his nearby grave in the courtyard of Al-Amin’s mosque. (full text).

Read: Bahia Hariri to campaign as independent.

At the instigation of the ex-prime minister’s sister Bahiyya Hariri, the mayor of Beirut, ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Aris (who can’t stop French from slipping into his Arabic as he is interviewed live on Future), and downtown business owners have decided to launch a series of festivities beginning with the weekend preceding April 13, to celebrate national unity and restore life to what has become a deserted, desolate city center. People are exhorted to perform their patriotic duty, defy the barriers of fear that national tragedy and car bombs had instilled in hearts and minds, and go out to wine, dine and be merry in downtown Beirut. Restaurants and cafés are offering their menus at half-price from April 9 until April 13. A program of free concerts and activities is planned to animate every nook and cranny in the area, celebrities plan to make appearances, television programs are planning to broadcast from the midst of the celebrations, and Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s flagship airline, will be offering discounted tickets for Arabs to come and celebrate Lebanon’s rise from the ashes. “It’s democracy tourism,” says Bahiyya. (full text /April 6).

The six-day festival has been organised by Nora Jumblatt, wife of the Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt, and Bahiyya Hariri, sister of the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, assassinated in a massive blast on February 14. The festival aims to bring life back to the commercial heart of Beirut, which has been deserted since the assassination. (full text).

Her bio:
on unesco;

Bahiyya al-Hariri: Sunni born in Sayda in 1952, Sister of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, and member of the board of the Hariri Foundation. Degree from the National Teachers Institute in Sayda; until 1979 taught in a number of schools in Sayda and the South.


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