In October 2019, when the Lebanese government failed to find solutions to the looming economic crisis, the country was plunged into the 6th revolution in its history. People took to the streets, looking to shake all foundations and question every single construct of a deeply held system. This time of revolution was all about driving reform from the ground up. Women were at the forefront of this revolution, and outspoken political thought lead. But historically, women had faced massive underrepresentation in the political life and suffered from unequal rights. An-Nahar was always outspoken against injustice and was known to fearlessly tackle pertinent societal issues and drive social and political change.
And so, the nation-wide wave of change presented the perfect opportunity for An-Nahar to challenge the status-quo around injustices faced by women. We decided to pave the way for women to own a more equal space and to endeavor towards their inclusion in the political development of their country. We needed to increase their representation in government leadership, as women constituted a shy 8% of the cabinet at the time.
We chose to start this change by righting a glaring injustice: the Lebanese National Anthem clearly identified men as a source of national pride, but failed to mention women. So, in a bold move, we shocked the country by rewriting the national anthem. While the anthem previously described Lebanon’s mountains and lands as “the birthplace of men”, we revised it to “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.
We partnered with the country’s most famous singer, Carole Samaha, known for her patriotism, to join our cause, and launched the new anthem on the streets, on TV and radio channels, and across social media.
We boldly displayed the new anthem on the newspaper’s office building, strategically located at the heart of the protests in Beirut’s Martyr Square, allowing women to regain the space, and acknowledge their essential role in leading the revolution.
A few weeks later, on the celebration of Lebanon’s Independence Day, we sparked the whole nation to sing the new anthem, concretizing its adoption in the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people.
Finally and in a tangible step forward for our cause, the newly appointed cabinet consisted of 400% more female minsters, and marked the appointment of the first ever female Minister of Defense in the history of the Arab world. After its appointment, the new cabinet pledged to submit a bill for the country to officially adopt the new national anthem.