Haifa, 21, breaks stereotypes: “I want to be the first woman to enter politics in my city”

Haifa, 21 years old, is an ambitious young Lebanese woman. In a world dominated by men, she tries to break stereotypes about women.

At a young age, Haifa dared to make her voice heard. She made it clear what she stood for and fought for her ideals. “We live in a world overshadowed by discrimination and inequality, which prevents girls and women from fully growing and developing. I don’t want that, so I am committed to changing the image people have of women,” says Haifa.

Young activist Haifa.

Women must hear

Haifa is active in many clubs and youth groups, and always works to make sure that young women are present and heard. In addition, she organizes various activities in her neighborhood, such as free breast exams to raise awareness of breast cancer, providing free medicines to people who need them, and offering sex education.

She is leading the Plan International Coalition, a program for and by young women through which they can speak out about issues that matter to them. They discuss this in their community, but they also make themselves heard nationally or even internationally, for example at the United Nations. Through the programme, which is being implemented in nine countries, girls and young women want to ensure that their perspectives are incorporated into laws and policies and are committed to changing social norms and stereotypes about girls.

Political participation

The She Leads program is also committed to women’s political participation, which, according to Haifa, is still far from being fulfilled in Lebanon. “It bothers me that I still don’t see women in politics, even at the local level. I hope to become the first woman in my city to enter local politics,” says Haifa.

In fact, she already knows what she is going to do when she becomes a political leader. This begins with the installation of solar panels to regulate the light in the city. This is how you want to make the city more sustainable. She also wants to set up a free health center to create job opportunities for nurses in her hometown and to promote health. On top of that, she wants to make sure the kids have a safe place to play. For example, a park or playground and library.

Haifa is an ambassador for one day. Photo: Florent Zoen

Ambassador for a day

In preparation for achieving her dream, Haifa participated in the Girls Takeover initiative launched by Plan International on International Girls’ Day. She served as Australian Ambassador to Lebanon for one day.

Haifa assumed the duties of the ambassador and met many key figures with whom she discussed the importance of political participation for girls and women
integrate their views. “I am forever grateful for this opportunity, I learned so much from the ambassador and all the amazing women I met. It makes me even more motivated to follow my dreams and become an activist in health and local politics.”

When young women have the opportunity…

As a youth activist in the She Leads coalition, Haifa now teaches advocacy, campaigning, and social media to drive change. Once she completes her training, she will organize a regional campaign in the Middle East and North Africa with a group of young women from Lebanon and the Arab region with whom she followed the training. In doing so, they will draw attention to the rights of girls and young women and end violence against women.

Haifa is an example for young women in Lebanon who, if given the opportunity and a podium, can excel.

about she drives

Leeds is a five-year program (2021-2025) by Plan International, Defense for Children-ECPAT, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and Terre des Hommes, in a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We run the program in East Africa (Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya), West Africa (Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia) and the Middle East (Lebanon, Jordan). Over the next five years, we will increase the influence of girls and young women on decision-making and the issues that affect them. In short, it drives!

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