Raya Al Hassan: Lebanon’s New Interior Minister Sets a New Precedent for the Arab World

 




Illustration by Ali Elmandalawi

(1) EARLY AND PERSONAL LIFE

After 9 months of political deadlock, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad El Hariri finally formed a government at the tail end of last January. Among the ministers that Hariri appointed was one Raya Mohamed Ali El Hafar aka Raya Al Hassan who became the country’s first female Interior Minister.

El Hassan was born in January 1967 in Tripoli, Lebanon.

After marrying the physician Dr. Janah Al Hassan she adopted his last name and became known as Raya Al Hassan.

Al Hassan is also a mother two three young ladies; Dana, her eldest daughter, was born in 1993, Rama was born in 1995 and Zein, her youngest, was born in 2004.

(2) EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

In 1987, at the young age of 20, she received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut.

Then in 1990, she gained a master’s in Business Administration from George Washington University.

(3) POLITICAL LEANINGS AND SECTARIAN BACKGROUND

El Hassan is a Sunni Muslim, and like most Lebanese politicians, her sectarian background influenced her political stances.

She joined the Future Movement which is the largest member of the March 14 Alliance. She became a prominent member of both movements and eventually became a member of the March 14 Alliance’s political bureau.

(4) HER RISE TO POLITICAL STARDOM

El Hassan’s hard work and dedication to her country is evident throughout her political career. For instance, she once served as the program specialist at Economic Governance and Pro-Poor portfolio at UNDP Lebanon.

El Hassan also worked for the Lebanese Finance ministry in 1992.

From 1995 to 1999 she was an assistant to the Finance Minister and supervised the implementation of the ministry’s expenditure management reforms.

Between 1999 and 2000, she became an assistant to the director of public relations at Corporate Banking department of Byblos Bank.

From 2000 to 2003, she was an advisor to the Minister of Economy and Trade.

From 2005 to 2009, she worked in Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s cabinet and she was responsible for many of the Council of Ministers’ projects.

She also took part in the Paris II and Paris III conferences (International Conferences on Lebanon’s Reconstruction), where she further developed the Lebanese government’s economic and social programs.

(5) HER FIRST MINISTERIAL OFFICE

From November 2009 to 13 June 2011 she served as Lebanon’s Finance Minister, serving during Saad Hariri’s premiership and Michel Suleiman’s presidency. At the time of her appointment many Lebanese people said: “Our pockets are now in the hands of a woman.”

(6) MAKING HISTORY

Raya Al Hassan’s name will now be entrenched in history as she became the first woman in the Arab world to be appointed Interior Minister.

Al Hassan now has a heavy burden to bear as she is presently responsible for her country’s border security and internal security.

(7) PAVING THE WAY FOR FUTURE ARAB WOMEN

Al Hassan is now embarking on a journey of showing the Arab world that a woman can effectively uphold a male dominated office. If she is successful, she will become a role model to millions of girls and women throughout the Arab world and perhaps even set a precedent for other Arab countries to make similar bold ministerial appointments.


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