On Tuesday May 29, 2018, a one-day conference titled, “A Voice of Our Own: Retelling the Stories of Gender Based Violence,” took place in the presence of more than 100 people including journalists, experts, academics, students, officials, embassies, donors and NGOs representatives. It compromised a gender fair from NGOs and institutes like IWSAW, Fair Trade Lebanon, Fe-Male, ABAAD, MAP and ALANON, in addition to the youth network “My Fair Home” supporting domestic workers rights in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), and a panel discussion.

Fe-Male organized the conference in partnership with ABAAD, supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and in the collaboration with Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU). It saw the launching of Fe-Male’s Code of Conduct (CoC) and pioneer toolkit regarding protection and mitigation of GBV against women and girls within the foundation of “Naseej” project to strengthen national “Prevention, Protection and Response Mechanisms” (PPRM) to GBV in Lebanon.

TV host, writer, life coach, and trainer Milad Hadchiti hosted the opening ceremony (OC). In his speech, the Department of Government and International Relations- GIR Chairperson Dr. Dany Ghsoub called for the immediate implementation of the CoC to deal with all kinds of exploitation and protect freedom from oppression. The first Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Bina Saib said, “We need to step away from stereotypes and challenge ourselves to tell a nuanced and balanced story that engages the public,” while the Co-founder and Co-director of Fe-Male Hayat Mirshad considered that the CoC and the toolkit represent a milestone for women’s rights and an effective method of reporting and following up on GBV coverage.

The conference ended with a rendition of “Bread and Roses” performed by the artist Christina Kairouz; the Assistant to the University Chaplain Dr. Solange Helou, and GIR student Daria Nouaime.

Retelling Truth to Power

The news reporter, writer, producer, and TV host and NDU FLPS graduate Jad Ghosn moderated the interactive panel discussion “A Voice of Our Own,” it included ABAAD Founder and Director Ghida Anani, Beirut-based independent journalist and researcher Frank Elbers, Chairperson and Managing Partner of Planet News Business Hala Bejjani, AFEJ President, university lecturer and researcher Nidal Ayoub, in addition to FLPS Associate Professor and gender expert Eugene Sensenig. The speakers all agreed that social responsibility requires us to construct GBV stories in a way that enables us to celebrate survivors, to allow both women and men to help create a space in which being fair and honest gains a voice in a world, in which it is easier to speak truth to power and easier for people to be good.

Fe-Male closed the conference with promising the launch of a series of validation sessions with media outlets owners, editors, professional, journalists policy makers and civil society advocates – in addition to a national training campaign for the toolkit – throughout Lebanon starting summer 2018. In order to offer much needed psychological support, self-care sessions for field journalists and social workers will also be conducted by Milad Hadchiti. the Faculty of Law and Political Science-FLPS professors at NDU promised to continue their commitment to create an open space for people to communicate on gender-related issues by carrying out research projects, white papers, and a variety of GBV-related events, focusing on social justice, conflict resolution, family friendly policies, and diversity management.