When the Lebanese government failed to find solutions to the looming economic crisis, stagnant economy and unemployment, the country was plunged into the 6th revolution in its history. Past revolutions were marked with violence, and Lebanon was inching towards the same grisly outcome.
In a country where women don’t have equal rights and face massive underrepresentation in the government, An Nahar, the nation’s leading paper with a long history of standing with the Lebanese people, looked to empower women to lead the revolution, and avoid the violence that marked previous protests.
Describe the cultural / social / political climate in your region and the significance of your campaign within this context
While the women of Lebanon are known to be outspoken and often political thought leaders, Lebanese society is patriarchal. Over the years predominantly male-led governments have come and gone, sinking the country deeper into debt, economic crisis and corruption.
When Lebanon was plunged into its 6th revolution, the nation was in dire need of change and HOPE.
In a country where the national anthem fails to mention women, and where they faced massive underrepresentation only comprising 8% of ministers in the cabinet, the stage was set for the women of Lebanon to take the lead.
Describe the creative idea
We spotted a glaring injustice in Lebanon – the absence of women in the Lebanese National Anthem. The country’s expression of national identity shockingly did not identify women.
So we took the bold move of fixing it. In a phrase in the anthem that previously only referred to Lebanon as "the birthplace of men," we added "the birthplace of WOMEN AND men."
Lebanon woke up to an entire newspaper edition dedicated exclusively to women, with the front page proudly displaying the revised national anthem. Even the newspaper’s name had been changed to "Naharouki," which translates into “Your Day” when addressing a female.
Describe the strategy
By understating that a nation’s past sets the tone for the future, Lebanon was once again staring at a revolution, caused by corrupt leadership and mismanagement. And once again, matters were at the edge of turning violent as they had done so many times before.
Knowing that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results- we knew something had to change this time around. We realized that by urging women to step into the forefront of the revolution, we could not only stem the violence of the past, but could also pave the way for women to participate in the leadership of their country moving forward.
Up until now, Lebanese women despite being outspoken and often political thought leaders, faced massive underrepresentation only comprising 8% of ministers in the cabinet. This was the opportunity for change.
Describe the execution
We printed the revised National Anthem on the front page of the An Nahar newspaper. And the entire edition was dedicated to one story alone – The women’s story.
Being Lebanon’s leading newspaper, with a massive readership base, the new anthem reached almost every woman across the country.
We got Carole Samaha, the country’s most famous singer known for her patriotic songs, to join the cause and sing the new anthem in the biggest square of the revolution. Her rendition of the anthem was then broadcast on TV and radio channels organically all over Lebanon.
The anthem was also printed and displayed on a large banner in the center of Beirut, which became a beacon of hope, and an assembly point for women across the city to come together and join the revolution.
Describe the results / impact
The day the new National Anthem was published, spontaneously women from across Lebanon occupied the streets and sang it, turning it into the chant of the now peaceful revolution. People printed the anthem and hung it from buildings across the city.
The campaign became the No.1 trending topic on Twitter, drawing 745 million impressions and $150 Million earned media. The edition also became An-Nahar’s BEST-SELLING EDITION ever.
The front cover went viral globally on all social channels and was extensively reported in the International press.
On Lebanon’s Independence day, the entire nation came together in singing the new National Anthem in its new peaceful revolution.
Finally, the revolution transformed the historically all-male dominated cabinet by including 400% more female minsters, including the appointment of the first ever female Minister of Defense in any Arab country.
The new cabinet has pledged to submit a bill to change the national anthem forever.