Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Choukeir

SUPPORTING GENDER EQUALITY IN DESIGN LEADERSHIP

I have been meaning to share this for some time now, and International Women’s Day was the perfect nudge for me to just get to it!

In a nutshell, we have started a Design Leadership Lean In Circle at Uscreates back in September of last year. What is a Lean In Circle you ask?

“Lean In Circles are small groups who meet regularly to learn and grow together, and they’re changing lives. Women are asking for more, stepping outside their comfort zones, and leaning in.”

The movement was started by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg following the success of her book Lean In, which challenges and encourages women to lead in their careers, and men to support them to do that.

A few of us at Uscreates have read the book, got angry about the gender gap numbers, got inspired by some of the stories shared, felt motivated by some of the advice, and disagreed with some of the other advice.

I know that Sheryl, her book, and the movement have received their fair share of criticism – probably most notably here. But debating the strengths and shortcoming of the book and the movement is not quite the topic of this blog – although I do quite enjoy these sorts of debates.

The reality is that it’s the 21st century, the gender gap in (design) leadership is still there, and we all need to do something about this, and as a design business, we certainly do too.

For example last year Uscreates, alongside the Point People and the RSA, brought together women pioneers in service design to tell their story of how they essentially created a service design industry from scratch.

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-09-at-13.09.41.png

Industry: 70% of design students are female but only 40% of professional designers are female

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-09-at-13.09.56.png

Pay: 47 years after the Equal Pay Act, women are still 18% behind men on pay

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-09-at-13.10.34.png

Leadership: Only 23% of board seats in the UK are held by women.

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-09-at-13.11.07.png

Design leadership: In design businesses, only 3% of board seats are held by women.

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-09-at-13.11.27.png

Design leadership: Only 11% of design business leaders are female.

The success of Sandberg’s book inspired her to start a movement called  ‘Lean In Circles’.

These circles are essentially small groups of people, predominantly women, that meet regularly to learn and grow together with the help of free education materials, expert advice, discussion guides, and more. They are designed to help women ask for more in their careers, step out of their comfort zone and of course ‘lean in’.

Therefore, a Design Leadership Lean In Circle gives us a simple, no fuss way to apply our energies and passions to get stuff done. But because we understand systems at Uscreates, we know that the stuff that needs to get done needs to happen at the level of:

  • The individual (motivation, efficacy, resilience, capability building)
  • The design business – a culture and internal policies that encourage and enable women to achieve full potential
  • The design industry – collaborating to address joint challenges, making joint commitments and taking joint action
  • Policy – fully assessing the impact of every policy – whether intended or not – on gender equality in leadership

So as we got together at Uscreates to shape what we wanted to do, why we wanted to do it, and who we needed to involve, our thinking evolved into Lean In Ripple Circles for Design Leadership to address the dimensions of the challenge at different levels of the system: the Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, and the Open Circle.

Here’s a quick sketch of our early thinking. We know these are ambitions ideas, and we’re not quite there yet, but here is where we are up to, what we plan on doing next, and what we dream of doing one day.

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Lean-in-Initial-idea-sketches.jpgUscreates sketch Lean In Circle for Design Leadership
Uscreates’ sketching out Lean In Circle for Design Leadership

What we are doing now; the Design Leadership Inner Circle

This circle is for us – all the people of Uscreates, internalising the revolution.

The gender gap is less of an issue here. We are a predominantly women-led business, and happen to have mostly women in our great team.

We (across the gender spectrum) want to support ourselves and one another to achieve our fullest potential. A few of us have been meeting once a month over lunch, to share our individual goals and support one another to get that one step closer to achieving them.

Different team members have different goals such as: doing a TED talk, being more confident in meetings, balancing work with work, balancing work with life, getting better at saying ‘yes’, taking a career shift.

It’s been wonderful coming together and leveraging the assets of the circle to offer one another tips, link each other up with things to look at or people to meet to help us all get to where we hope to be.

What we will be doing next; the Design Leadership Outer Circle

This circle is for us – all the people of Uscreates – and our friends.

Friends who have similar goals to some members of our team so we can work together to get there. Or friends who have achieved these goals in the past, we want to learn about your journeys, what the challenges were and what kept you going.

This will take the shape of an informal get together around a breakfast or perhaps some after work drinks. We’ll lay out our goals to discuss, challenge and inspire one another, and open the right doors to take that next step.

If you’re interested or have achieved any of the goals we shared up there in the Inner Circle, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch (joanna@uscreates.com) and we’ll let you know when the first Outer Circle is taking place!

What we dream of doing; the Design Leadership Open Circle

This circle is for everyone in the design industry, externalising the revolution. We want to shake and disrupt. We’ll start this with hacks every now and then, bringing together systemic players – movements, designers and design leaders, employers, educators, recruiters, and policy makers.

Each hack will focus on a systemic challenge – closing the pay gap, supporting men to be able to lean into their families, equal parental leave pay, supporting women to find good mentors, and so on.

There are so many wonderful people and movements doing so much already in this space, and we have SO much respect for them: Kerning the GapAda’s ListHidden Women of Design, and #upfront to name only a few.

We have spoken to some of them who were excited by this, and we want to speak to more. We want to make this happen as a force – not as Uscreates. So do get in touch (joanna@uscreates.com) if you want to help make this a reality!

Stay tuned. We will share learning and progress as we embark on this exciting and purpose-driven journey.

This blog was written by Dr. Joanna Choukeir

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Joanna-150×150.jpg

Dr Joanna Choukeir Design Director

As Design Director at Uscreates, Joanna’s role is to develop design talent and embed people-centred design across health and wellbeing campaigns, products, services, systems and policies. Joanna is a renowned researcher, speaker and lecturer on social design with 13 years’ experience gained in the UK and internationally across multiple sectors.

She has worked with clients such as Nesta, NHS England, Policy Lab, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and charities, to help them achieve transformational and sustainable change through design.

Joanna has also completed a PhD in design for social integration at the University of the Arts London.

Read more at https://www.uscreates.com/supporting-gender-equality-in-design-leadership/#JYQSjD7QhJfKP3O3.99

 

Open Data Challenge? Heritage, Culture, Stakeholder research…

As part of each of the Open Data Challenges, we commission user research into the Challenge.

The research is intended to provide actionable insight to inspire the design of products and services that will be developed by teams competing in the Challenge.

This user research includes outputs such as user personas and user journeys for teams to use at key stages of development of their ideas. This resource is not intended to be exhaustive and teams are encouraged to undertake their own research in order to further refine their product/service.

We also train teams at our meetups to undertake user research so that a user focus can form an ongoing part of the development of their product.

December 3, 2014

Heritage + Culture Open Data Challenge – User and Stakeholder Research

Joanna Choukeir, Head of Public Sector Design and Innovation at Uscreates, is the strategic creative consultant who provide user research for the Open Data Challenge Series. She sets out the key findings from the user research for the Food Open Data Challenge and introduces the full research report which is available for download.

Uscreates undertook a piece of user insight research on behalf of Nesta and the Open Data Institute to support the teams taking part in the Heritage and Culture open date challenge.

The aim of the user research is to provide teams with an insight into some of the opportunities and challenges facing potential audience members and other stakeholders from the heritage and culture sector.

The process, including details of who we interviewed, can be found in the user research slide deck. Teams should use this research to gain a high level understanding of the issues relating to the groups they want to help, to identify where there might be a need for a tool or service. We would expect teams to use this as a starting point for their own investigation.

Within the research, we identified links between stakeholders and used the Audience Agency segmentation to understand the different types of visitors of heritage and culture opportunities.

Map of stakeholder interactions: we mapped the different interactions – both financial and informational – that take place between the key players in the heritage and culture space. This diagram visualises the complexity of this landscape.

Audience Agency Segmentor:

The Audience Agency brought together data to inform their audience segmentation, which comprises of 10 different groups. These are divided into those who are highly engaged, those who are medium engaged and those who are lower engaged.

More detail about each segment, including their prevalence in different geographic areas of the UK, can be found at http://audiencefinder.org/audience/#segmentation

In terms of accessing heritage and culture the main way people said that they were made aware of things to see and do was from friends and families. They then usually search for more information online. People said they made the decision to go somewhere if they trusted the opinion of the person who recommended it to them, or knew and trusted the venue or creators.

They were also helped in their decision making by knowing how easy the place would be for them to access and enjoy. Potential audiences’ main motivations for visiting places were enjoyment, learning, socialising and creating memories for families.

Some of the challenges facing potential audiences were a sense that some things were not for them, physical inaccessibility, not understanding what was on offer, and more practical issues like poor value for money and lack of time. It should be noted that income was not a simple predictor of engagement as people’s motivation to engage played a bigger role.

Opportunities for outreach organisations and intermediaries (such as curators, agents, the press and marketing) are that they can create different types of content including digital content, the breaking down of barriers for some groups of the population, engaging families for more sustainable impact, and different funding and partnership opportunities. Some of their main challenges are finding and reaching out to people who are not engaging, expense of intensive outreach, and facilitating real accessibility for all.

Some of the opportunities for heritage and culture institutions identified are; funding for engagement programmes, use of social media, creating engaging activities, the ability to offer reduced priced or free tickets, partnerships with outreach organisations, and taking the work they do out into communities who may not normally engage.

Amongst the challenges that institutions face are the costs associated with audience engagement, determining who low engagers are and how to reach them, practicalities of offering people digital content, low uptake of some initiatives, and the level of resource, knowledge and expertise to engage diverse groups of people.

Creators (such as artists, playwrights and conservationists) were asked about how they engage with audiences and how they establish themselves within the sector. In terms of engaging audiences, the main opportunities are the use of social media and the diverse ways of presenting their work to people.

Challenges identified were the money required to create and promote their work, and the concern about greater free access devaluing their work.

In terms of becoming creators, the opportunities were around the availability of networks and funding from a range of sources. However there are challenges in terms of finding out about appropriate funding opportunities and the overall cost of making a career out of being a creator.

Funders were asked about their funding process, decisions about what to fund and how they measure impact. Some of the opportunities for them are numerous and diverse applications for their fund, and networks that they can easily reach people through.

The challenges for them are reaching people who may not be in those networks, having to reject some good projects, and measuring the impact of their investment in non-financial terms.

A variety of existing and exciting products and services were identified by the people we spoke to, ranging from apps that tell you about artefacts you are looking at in a range of amenities, to websites that help creators identify grants they can apply for. However, each group also identified areas where they felt there were gaps in the market and where additional information, data or tools could help them.

Things such as real accessibility, online information about smaller cultural community groups, promoting understanding about what culture is, digital interfaces and content, and reaching the ‘hard to reach’ groups were all cited as potential opportunities for the use of open data.

Photo Credit: Stephan Caspar via Flickr CC

– See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/heritage-culture-open-data-challenge-user-and-stakeholder-research-published?utm_content=buffer57fcc&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.GMmuvIP9.dpuf

New tools for changing behaviour? Like digital platforms?

Joanna Choukeir is a social design practitioner, researcher, speaker and lecturer with a decade of experience in the UK and Lebanon.
She is the Design and Communication Director at Uscreates, a London-based strategic consultancy pioneering innovative work to help organisations maximise their social value. Joanna has recently completed a PhD, researching and developing communication design methods to enhance social integration in post-conflict communities.

Using digital tools to change behaviour

Joanna Choukeir

How can you use online user experience to change behaviours in the physical world?

MyFitnessPal is an excellent sample of using an online experience to change offline behaviour – specifically around health and fitness. User experience is not just a digital thing – it’s any interaction with a company, service and product.

Buying fish and chips is a user experience. Successful UX is when they have a positive, streamlined and successful interaction with a service.

The future is digital. And it’s mobile – mobile is being used twice as much as PCs, and is the only media type growing.

Unilver has suggested that sustainable change will have to come across society, not just government or corporates.

There’s widespread interest in using behaviour change to improve our life experiences. Using online tools to do that means you can review and iterate.

You can measure change – if the app is logging changes, you get that hard feedback.

We’re not connecting these disciplines as much as we should.

A quick search of Google News turns up headlines taking about how much behaviour change apps are failing to do that. Searches for behaviour change have been consistent for nearly a decade.

UX design is rising rapidly, and user experience is higher than both and still growing.

How do we connect the dots?

Operant conditioning – the carrot and the stick

The Walk is an app, which plays you an audio thriller as you walk, and requires you to walk a number of steps to unlock the next episode. Zombies Run does the same thing, but you have a stick behind you – the zombies…

Written?

Kitten gives you a kitten photo if you hit your word count for the day. On the stick side you have Write or Die, which starts deleting words if you stop writing for set intervals.

Social cognitive theory

How much ability do we have to manage ourselves and our productivity?

There’s an app called Freedom that will block the internet on your computer for a while. SelfControl allows you to blacklist websites you want to avoid.

Theory of reasoned action

We evaluate the benefit or harm of actions to us, and we consider social pressure in that. BetterMe shames you on social media for failing to meet a task.

Theory of planned behaviour

If you want to change, you need the intention and a plan.

Unfuck Your Habitat allows you to plan and focus your efforts in cleaning your home.

Trainaway helps your reduce your carbon footprint, by concentrating on enjoying the journey, not just the destination. It helps you plan stopover points and things to do there.

Social learning theory

We observe and model behaviour based on what we see around us.

The Wheel of Well-being is built on the idea that people respond to tips given by others, because they know they work.

Social ecological model

We’re influenced by individual, environment and interpersonal factors. The Wheel of Well-being gives tips and activities contexts to harness this effect.

Trans-theoretical model for behaviour changes

Behaviour change is complicated – you need to have the idea, think about it, prepare for it, act on it and then maintain that change. It’s hard.

Most digital product focus on preparation and maintenance stages.

Can we move into the pre-contemplation stage, to give people the idea for change?

Making your own cleaning products

I share a few tips in this blog post on how to make your own environmentally friendly cleaning products

A few months ago I looked into cleaning products that have a positive social impact and decided to switch to products from Method due to its B Corp status and the fact it is widely available (you can read more here).

The practical problems I had with Method

Although I like the organisation’s values I did not like the products for a number of slightly unexpected reasons:

1- the toilet cleaner dispensed more cleaner than seemed necessary (making it not very ‘green’ and expensive)

2- the shower cleaner didn’t work as well as my previous brand (Ecover)

3- the washing up liquid had a pump action dispenser which required the bottle to remain upright which just didn’t work for me

When I was considering alternatives, Joanna Choukeir, who works at one of my clients (Uscreates), told me that she had started to make her own cleaning products and I asked for more details. She very kindly sent me the following instructions:

Making your own cleaning products – suggestions from Joanna

  • Washing detergent (colours): grate a soap bar (usually the natural olive oil bars) and mix it with some baking soda
  • Washing detergent (whites): same as above but I add a squeeze of lemon
  • Worktops, bathroom, sink cleaner: use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (this works great in areas where there is hard water or anywhere water leaves white marks on taps/sinks etc.)
  • Washing up liquid: grate a soap bar and mix it with a bit of baking soda, lemon juice and water
  • Mirrors and windows: just wipe with a piece of dry newspaper! Add a drop of water for stubborn stains
  • Stainless steel surfaces: wipe with a drop of olive oil on a cotton pad
  • Wooden and tiled floors: use grated soap bar and water
  • Pots and pans: same as washing up liquid, but then wipe with a cotton pad and olive oil
I am going to try these suggestions and will let you know how it goes.
Do you have any suggestions for homemade cleaning products?

 

 

How you become a Peace Activist in Lebanon

Aisha Habli posted this January 18, 2014

Why I Became a Peace Activist

Beirut – 9:40 AM, I wake to my phone ringing and mistake it for an alarm. My sister anxiously asks me where I am, and I guiltily reply that I’ve slept in. “I’m just calling to ask you if you heard the explosion,” she says.
As I’m talking to her, I hear a helicopter fly close by, followed by sirens from speeding vehicles. I had an errand this morning in Downtown Beirut, and the site of the explosion was on my walking route. This situation has become eerily familiar.
Aisha Habli and fellow activists organize youth activities to tackle issues of identity and segregation in Lebanon. Photo credit: Joanna Choukeir, July 2012.

Aisha Habli and fellow activists organize youth activities to tackle issues of identity and segregation in Lebanon. Photo credit: Joanna Choukeir, July 2012. (One of the girls looks like Lynn or Lin)

On the last Friday of 2013, an explosion hit Lebanon’s busy capital Beirut, killing 6 civilians, injuring 45 others, and assassinating Mohammad Chatah, former Finance Minister and senior advisor to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The bombing was only a short distance from the site of the car bomb that targeted former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and marked the beginning of a series of car bombings and assassinations that have been occurring regularly ever since.

All Lebanese political parties have been targets of such terrorist acts. The beginning of 2014 has already seen yet another car bombing in the southern suburb of Dahieh, and a historic library in the northern city of Tripoli was torched damaging thousands of books and manuscripts.

In times like these, I am reminded of why I am a social and peace activist. Things are not well in Lebanon or the region, and until we change our mentalities, things won’t change anytime soon.

Aisha records reflections from youth who participated in social integration activities. Photo credit: ??, July 2012.

Aisha records reflections from youth on social integration. Photo credit: Hanane Kai, July 2012.

I grew up in multicultural communities in Saudi Arabia and moved to Lebanon in 2007 to pursue my higher education. I was fascinated by the Lebanese hospitality and generosity.

To my disappointment I have lately noticed an increasingly polarized community—one where your name, hometown, religion, and political affiliation define you.

Because of these labels, I am sometimes offered special privileges and, at other times, treated with distrust, both equally frustrating.

I have even been turned down for a job that I was qualified for because of my name, Aisha, which was the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s favorite wife, who played a large part in the conflict that later divided Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites.(She got involved in and led the first civil war in the battle of “The Camel” against the troops of Calif  Ali who were ironically Sunnis (followers of the power to be)

In the interviewer’s words, with a name like Aisha, I would “cause a loss in the company’s market and could only work in select regions based on their religious and political associations.”

Refusing to tolerate this as the norm, I wanted to get to know the people of my country in person, rather than rely on the media outlets and adopt the prejudices around me.

I sought out communities where people of various Lebanese backgrounds engaged in dialogue, exchanged ideas, and pursued reform and innovation.

The people I met were hopeful and inspiring. Soon enough, I became a social and peace activist, eager to improve my community through projects that encourage dialogue and break down social barriers.

‘Imaginers’ share their passion for Imagination Studio. Video by Joanna Choukeir.

In 2011, I joined Imagination Studio, a co-creation project that aimed to tackle the leading social integration barriers facing Lebanese youth, including religious sects, political affiliation, poor mobility between regions, and media influence. We organized workshops to analyze these ‘barriers’ and designed activities to bring together youth in public spaces across Lebanon.

Today, the research methodology used for Imagination Studio is being developed as a guideline to support worldwide organizations in using social design to tackle social segregation.

I have also volunteered as an organizer at TEDxBeirut. The success of the TEDx communities in Lebanon comes from the networking opportunities they provide to individuals of various backgrounds. The events cultivate dialogue on a variety of issues including education, healthcare, technology, design, entertainment, and entrepreneurship.

Walkabout Drum Circle entertaining the crowd with interactive drumming from West African origins at the TEDxBeirut event. Photo credit: ??, May 2012.

Walkabout Drum Circle entertains the TEDxBeirut crowd with West African, interactive drumming. Photo credit: Nadim Kamel, May 2012.

Once a week, I participate as a mentor for The Nawaya Network. As one of the first mentorship programs for disadvantaged youth in Lebanon and the Arab world, it aims to create a positive and nurturing environment that allows youth to discover their hidden potential.

My other passion is peace activism. I am the local and international outreach coordinator at the Media Association for Peace, an organization based in Lebanon that trains media practitioners in peace journalism techniques and promotes the implementation of peace journalism.

MAP members celebrating the International Day of Peace with MasterPeace, a movement inspiring peace through arts and education, at a monastery in the Lebanese mountains. Photo credit: ??, September 2012.

Media Association for Peace members celebrate the International Day of Peace. Photo credit: Mostapha Raad, September 2012.

The concept behind peace journalism, also known as conflict-sensitive journalism, is to report news from an unbiased standpoint. It gives equal value to both sides of a conflict, creates opportunities for non-violent responses to conflict, and proposes solutions.

study from a professor at Park University suggests that the practice of peace journalism in Ugandan local media mitigated violence during elections in 2011.

Peace journalism is not just a tool for becoming a more responsible journalist but also a tool for better communicating with others. It has made me a better listener, helping me be open to a wider variety of viewpoints and learn the many angles of “the truth” in a story.

Things are rarely ever black and white, and through peace journalism, news reports humanize and give a voice to both sides of a conflict.

This summer, I witnessed violent clashes in my hometown of Sidon in southern Lebanon. Being a part of the story gave me insight into how a news story is put together in the Lebanese media.

The news outlets spotlighted two opposing sides of the conflict: radical Sunni Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir and the Lebanese Army, with civilian reports on Hezbollah’s involvement as a third front.

Being held hostage inside my house, I felt devalued in the media as a civilian. While our hearts and prayers were with our friends and family closest to the clashes, the media was focused on polarizing the situation and creating a thrilling evening news report.

Aisha and fellow social change agents share ideas. Photo credit: ??, February 2012.

Aisha and fellow social activists exchange ideas. Photo credit: Hanane Kai, February 2012.

Rarely does one find peace efforts that have long-lasting effects, but peace journalism has promise, as it focuses on violence prevention.

It can help media outlets report news in a more sensitive and responsible way by providing neutral facts, giving both sides of a conflict an equal voice, humanizing the conflict, being selective about terminology and images associated with the news story, and lastly, proposing solutions.

After a peace-journalism report, the viewer is informed with facts, able to deduce his or her own opinion, and willing to feel compassion for both sides of a conflict rather than aggression towards or fear of one side. “Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion,” as the Dalai Lama XIV said.

I am one of many activists in Lebanon calling for an alternative to the current situation, in which we are more involved in decision making and the country’s security status. Lebanese civilians are tired of being victims of sectarian and political tension and are becoming proactive.

TEDxBeirut participants holding signs to express "All we need is..." Photo credit: ??, November 2012.

TEDxBeirut participants share their views and personalize the event’s theme: “All we need is…” Photo credit: Nadim Kamel, November 2012.

Aisha_HabliAisha Habli studies biomedical engineering and works as a public relations and media specialist. She is a social and peace activist and a member of the Media Association for Peace and MasterPeace Lebanon.

Licia Ronzulli is an Italian member of the European Parliament known for bringing her daughter, Vittoria, to the Parliament's plenary sessions. She first brought her daughter to a plenary session when she was 44 days old as a symbolic gesture to support more rights for women in reconciling work and family life. This composite picture shows the mother-daughter duo at Parliament sessions from September 22, 2010 to November 19, 2013. </p><br />
<p>Vittoria is one little Mighty Girl who will be well-prepared to run for office herself one day!</p><br />
<p>To inspire your Mighty Girl with more stories about women in politics and government, visit our "Political Leaders" biography section at  http://www.amightygirl.com/books/history-biography/biography?cat=211</p><br />
<p>For stories of female trailblazers in politics, science, the arts, athletics and more, visit A Mighty Girl's "Role Models" section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/history-biography/biography </p><br />
<p>News coverage of Ronzulli's story has generated a lot of discussion on family leave policies, especially around the fact that only four countries in the world have no national law requiring paid maternity leave: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States. To learn more about the lack of paid family leave in the U.S. and a group working to give all Americans access to paid family leave, check out @[8321461609:274:MomsRising.org] at http://bit.ly/mOQbVO</p><br />
<p>Photo credit: Vincent Kessler and Jean-Marc Loos/Reuters
Licia Ronzulli is an Italian member of the European Parliament known for bringing her daughter, Vittoria, to the Parliament’s plenary sessions.
Licia Ronzulli first brought her daughter to a plenary session when she was 44 days old, as a symbolic gesture to support more rights for women in reconciling work and family life.
This composite picture shows the mother-daughter duo at Parliament sessions from September 22, 2010 to November 19, 2013.
Vittoria is one little Mighty Girl who will be well-prepared to run for office herself one day!
To inspire your Mighty Girl with more stories about women in politics and government, visit our “Political Leaders” biography section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/history-biography/biography?cat=211
For stories of female trailblazers in politics, science, the arts, athletics and more, visit A Mighty Girl’s “Role Models” section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/history-biography/biography
News coverage of Ronzulli’s story has generated a lot of discussion on family leave policies, especially around the fact that only four countries in the world have no national law requiring paid maternity leave: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States.
To learn more about the lack of paid family leave in the U.S. and a group working to give all Americans access to paid family leave, check out MomsRising.org at http://bit.ly/mOQbVO
Photo credit: Vincent Kessler and Jean-Marc Loos/Reuters

Are you a resilient designer? Stories from the employer

What makes a resilient designer?

Stories from the employer

I have posted many articles on design, designing, designers, and now what could be the attributes for a resilient designer?

The London College of Communication (LCC) is working in partnership with Uscreates and FdA and BA Design for Graphic Communication students on a research project.
The aim is to better understand the resilience attributes that a designer needs to be equipped with and how he/she can develop these attributes further, to succeed in industry and among their community of practice.
We would appreciate your stories and experiences on this issue.
Please take five minutes to answer the following questions by Monday the 17th of June 12pm. Responses will be analyzed and published anonymously in a report during the end of year show at LCC on the 20th of June 2013.

* Required

Your top 3 resilience attributes for a designer

Select 3 resilience attributes from the list below that would make a design candidate you are considering recruiting most employable. *
  • Open to feedback: embraces and acts upon constructive feedback
  • Communicator: good at listening, explaining, presenting, negotiating, debating and pitching
  • Team player: understands the value of team working, leverages the team’s skills, and contributes constructively
  • Networking abilities: sociable, personable and understands the value of connections and people assets to further a career
  • Self-promoting: actively branding and promoting oneself in day-to-day interactions with the community of practice
  • Problem-solver: enjoys problems and the process of solution-making
  • Inquisitive: curious and questioning nature
  • Visionary: armed with a vision for a future career pathway
  • Strategic: good understanding of the bigger picture
  • Unafraid of failure: understands failure as progress and is willing to start again
  • Risk-taker: embraces experimentation, innovation, unexpected outcomes, and treading new territory
  • Self-directed: driven by own ambitions, goals and confidence, and takes more proactive than reactive steps
  • Agile: capability to adapt to change quickly and improvise coping strategies
  • Can-do attitude: sees obstacles as opportunities and barriers as possibilities
  • Confidence: believes in own skills, experience and capabilities
  • Self-reflective: assesses own strengths, weaknesses, and learning to progress and develop
  • Multi-tasker: ability to handle more than one task or project at the same time while maintaining quality
  • Working under pressure: ability to perform effectively with heavy workloads or conflicting priorities
  • Responsible: reliable and performs role and responsibilities well
  • Resourceful: makes the best use of time, budget and other resource constraints
  • Organised: reliable and effective task and time manager
  • Attentive to details: able to focus on the details
  • Theory-practice balance: ability to put theory into practice and extract theory from practice
  • Interdisciplinary: interested in disciplines outside design and how they affect design and can be affected by design
  • Industry-aware: good understanding of the design industry and its working dynamics
  • Researcher: understands the value of seeking information to make informed decisions
  • Empathic: designing with an understanding of clients, peers and audience’s needs and situations
  • Creative: ability to generate novel ideas, approaches and perspectives
  • Ideas person: good a generating new and multiple ideas quickly towards a challenge
  • Passionate about learning: mind-set that existing skills can be improved and new skills can be learned
  • Other:

Stories about the 1st resilience attribute you selected

What was your 1st choice resilience attribute? *
Share a story about a time when you interviewed a design candidate who would have scored LOW on achieving that attribute. *
Describe when it was, what happened at the interview, and how you felt about the candidate.
Share a story about a time when you interviewed a design candidate who would have scored HIGH on achieving that attribute. *
Describe when it was, what happened at the interview, and how you felt about the candidate.

Stories about the 2nd resilience attribute you selected

What was your 2nd choice resilience attribute? *
Share a story about a time when you interviewed a design candidate who would have scored LOW on achieving that attribute. *
Describe when it was, what happened at the interview, and how you felt about the candidate.
Share a story about a time when you interviewed a design candidate who would have scored HIGH on achieving that attribute. *
Describe when it was, what happened at the interview, and how you felt about the candidate.

Stories about the 3rd resilience attribute you selected

What was your 3rd choice resilience attribute? *
Share a story about a time when you interviewed a design candidate who would have scored LOW on achieving that attribute. *
Describe when it was, what happened at the interview, and how you felt about the candidate.
Share a story about a time when you interviewed a design candidate who would have scored HIGH on achieving that attribute. *
Describe when it was, what happened at the interview, and how you felt about the candidate.
Never submit passwords through Google Forms

“Be the change you wish to see”: Back to TEDxBeirut?

 Count on Lebanese to review past event, like the TEDxBeirut that was held in late September.  This time around, it is worthwhile a serious recollection of this non-profit project that came through with flying color. It was a great event that required 6 months preparation and the exhausting last month, which prevented two dozens in the board from getting a couple of sleep daily. 

A few members in the organizing board had quit secure and well-paying jobs, a few risked being fired by spending work-hours doing something else other than their paying work, a few stacked up phone bills of around a $1,000, and a few shifted the entire focus of their consultancy towards a non profitable project.

I have posted four articles on TEDxBeirut, and on Jan. 23, YOUSSEF Chaker published his version of the event under “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Youssef wrote (with slight editing): “I told my co-founders and our interim board members to fuck off (a big deal for an entrepreneur who poured everything into his startup for the past year). The stories of individuals, sacrificing so much for this non-profit project, span the entire group of VOLUNTEERS that come from varied backgrounds (including different countries) who worked around the clock, for days on end, to bring to Lebanon an event of a different caliber.

TEDxBeirut wasn’t about the speakers and the big names featured on the program. The theme for TEDxBeirut 2011 was “From Limitation to Inspiration.” What people outside of the TEDxBeirut organizing team didn’t realize is that it was a theme for the journey the team went through.

TEDx events (x = independently organized TED event) are special no matter where they are held in the world, but in a country like Lebanon, organizing such an event comes with its own set of difficulties. Unless you are a well-known group or company backed by some good contacts, getting past the paperwork alone is an overreaching goal.

When Patsy thought out loud about organizing a TEDx event in Beirut, she was merely expressing a wish (maybe some event company would make it happen). Little did she know that she was going to be the one spearheading the effort to see her dream go from idea to reality. And this is why I say it was an event of a different caliber.

It wasn’t the major players and usual suspects who were behind the event,  but it was, according to many attendee testimonials, one of the best organized and professional events that people in Beirut have ever experienced.

TEDxBeirut Team Members Hard at Work
TEDxBeirut Team Members Hard at Work, Patsy, William, Marc…
 

Now why am I talking about an event that’s more than 3 months old? I promise you it will all come together at the end of this post. Bare with me as I take you through parts of the journey that will explain to you why if we ever talk about Lebanon, I might say something along the lines of “I live in a different Lebanon than you do!”

What I experienced during the days leading up to TEDxBeirut was only a fraction of what some people went through before I had joined. But I got the opportunity on many occasions to sit back and take a distant view of the behavior of the team members. It’s important to mention the HUGE differences on all levels among the people involved.

This organizing group was a typical Lebanese blend (makhlouta) like mixed nuts  in interests, skills, personalities, backgrounds, education, all of it was different. But the situation was atypical: There was a common goal. The entire team was working on a single goal, with no personal interest at all. We were all volunteers.

None of us was gaining anything from participating in this effort on a personal level. I saw people work their ass off, to put together a one day event in Lebanon, knowing that with the Lebanese mentality all they were going to get in return were complaints and criticism because the Lebanese are never pleased.

It didn’t matter, we were doing something that we cared about, that we wanted to see happen, and if others wanted to be part of it that would be great. Keep in mind, when Patsy started organizing the event, she meant it to be for about a hundred or so people. The expectation was bumped up to 300, and again to 800, to eventually get an 800 seated audience and about 200 other people sitting on the stairs in the theater or watching the stream in a different room (not to mention those who tuned in for the live stream on the web)!

Exposure, recognition, TV spots or seats in the parliament were never the objective, this time around.

I urge you to take a moment and let that last paragraph sink in. It might not impress you at first, you might think it’s weak, your reaction might be meh, so what, what a big deal… But take a moment to put it in perspective. We are talking about a “do it yourself” mentality coupled with a “do it FOR yourself, fuck everyone else” attitude…

I am an entrepreneur, I don’t mean to keep mentioning it just for the sake of rubbing it in, there’s a mindset at the root of it. It is important to understand that so much goes into planning an event of this caliber. It takes certain personality traits, but also education and culture to foster such a mentality, which is not the case for most people in the world (especially Lebanese people).

And not only is it not part of our upbringing, it’s also discouraged in favor of ‘secure’ jobs:  We are reminded most of the time that individuals not seeking stable secure jobs are different, geniuses, basically not us. With TEDxBeirut, the group of individuals who participated broke that mold. They showed that ideas belong to everyone, and the execution is as possible for the common person as it is for the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

TEDxBeirut created a platform and an opportunity for other members of the community to follow suit. Donner Sang Compter (Give Blood/Without Counting, a play on words) is an initiative, by student founder Yorgui Teyrouz, to promote blood donations in Lebanon in an organized and continuous manner and raise awareness about the importance of contributing. Yorgui During his Speech at TEDxBeirut

Yorgui Teyrouz talk at TEDxBeirut 

This same network of people were very important to Joanna Choukeir who wanted to get an ambitious project rolling called “Imagination Studio”.  Joanna said:

“The impact that TEDxBeirut had on this idea was inspirational! Straight after the talk, a queue of “imaginers” wanted to help bring the idea to life. At home my inbox was already loaded with sign-ups, and the twitter and Facebook accounts with mentions and messages.”

The Lebanese community is a very capable group of people who unfortunately have been dormant and passive for many years. But all it takes is one person to get the ball rolling and action starts happening: “Together, we moved from one idea – Imagination Studio – to 22 brilliant ideas that can be put in action right now, right here, with the support of voluntary teams!”

Imagination Studio happened, and an open call for volunteers took place for people to contribute in their own way and using their own expertise to solving a problem.  Joanna compiled a list of people interested in contributing along with the actionable ideas that need to be implemented. The effort is still in its beginnings.

I am sure many of the skeptics out there who are used to bringing down others who are pushing for change will say that nothing will come out of Imagination Studio. There might be plenty of obstacles and many discouraging days, but what TEDxBeirut has demonstrated is that the only obstacle between us and change is ourselves and our own doubt. Everything else can and will be overcome.

Imagination Studio FunImagination Studio Fun

The TEDx movement is hard to explain, and hard to explain in terms of impact, or for the business people out there in terms of ROI. But it does have the IT factor that you do experience once you take part. No wonder there’s a book being written about it by an author who’s traveled to a dozen or so countries in 2011 and attended about 30 TEDx events and will attend double that number in 2012.

At the moment, the efforts might be on a small-scale. But we have a blueprint for social change that can be the example and inspiration for others. One pretty well-kept secret, which I’m sharing with you right now, is TEDxSKE.

TEDxSKE is a weekly gathering where a bunch of us (not just TEDxBeirut team members) get together to watch TED and TED like talks (TEDxSKE is run by Patsy who is licensed by TED which is a requirement to run TEDx events, but any group can get together and do the same without using the TED name although the license is not hard to get).

TEDxSKE was the precursor to TEDxBeirut and has grown since then. The activity changes from one week to the other, usually around a certain theme. It is not limited to TED talks alone, it could be any idea worth sharing. Of course, the evening doesn’t stop at the video/talk level.

The highlight of these gatherings is usually the discussions or activities (games) that we participate in between talks. And the result varies from one person to the other. I can not claim to know the effect that TEDxSKE has on each and every one of us, not even on myself. As this is an ongoing thing, a process of growth for all of us.

I can tell you that I see the change in the others and they see it in themselves as well. Some of us are trying to find out who we are, why we are on this planet and what we are supposed to be doing. Others are looking to affect change. And a few are, for the first time ever, getting exposed to alternate points of view.

TEDxSKEers are discovering aspects of their own personalities that they did not know about themselves, broadening their horizon and challenging their beliefs. And trust me, this is not poetry or empty talk. This is paraphrased directly from the participants themselves. TEDxSKE is a collective of passionate and motivated people who are a support system for each other. Many of whom are or will be important pillars in the social entrepreneurship change in Lebanon in the coming years.

SKEers Participating in an Activity
TEDxSKEers Participating in an Activity at Patsy apartment in Awkar

It might be a tad bit early to talk about results and accomplishments, but it is not too late, nor too early to talk about inspiration or even a different kind of movement in a country that has not adopted the Tunisian or Egyptian model of the Arab Spring. So when you drive or walk around Beirut, and you think about the potholes, the traffic and the corruption that Lebanon represents to you, remember that there is another Lebanon. A Lebanon you are more than welcomed to be part of, where DSC and Imagination Studio are not just ideas and where Thursdays (replaced by Tuesdays) are for the spoken poetry and arts club… Such a thing exists, stay tuned for more details.

It’s another kind of Lebanon which promotes action over wishful thinking, local change over change of country of residency. Just remember, be the change you want to see in the world.

What Inspires You?
Examples of “What Inspires You in TEDxBeirut”?

Session 2 of TEDxBeirut: “From limitation to Inspiration”

My previous post on Session One was “Inspiration regardless of lack of limitations”.  I decided to be a tad generous today.

Note: You may read detailed info on 8 speakers on this post https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/mostly-a-hoax-from-limitation-to-inspiration-slogan-of-tedxbeirut/

Session 2

Sessions 2 and 3 were more inspiring. Still, the speakers didn’t exhibit great limitations to inspire us even more.

After the coffe-break at 11:40, a TEDx speaker was displayed on the vast screen.  Mat Cutt? was haranguing audience to adopting small sustainable changes for 30 days, such as trying to write enough every day to finally producing a novel of 50,000 words in 30 day.  The novel is a start, but you may claim to be an author…You might bike to work for a month and experience the changes in your work habit, or taking a single picture every day…

Ali Jaber, MBC’s director, took the stage at 12:20 (read details in the previous link).  Ali said that the Arab States have 1,100 TV stations with operating cost of over $ billion and generating $5.5 billion in ads…Ali was behind the project of acceding to 100 MBites for the students of the Arab American University in Dubai.  The university is linked to 148 US universities via internet and the students (70% enjoying grants) can follow varieties of courses on-line.

Ali Jaber is the only speaker, so far, who answered my request for feedback to the link I have emailed him.  This failure in responses prompted me to prepare an article titled “Culture of contempt: Misplacement in comprehending personal failure?”

Mazen Hajjar, a beer brewer, talked at 12:38.  He said that civilization used barley 9,000 years ago to make beer, while using barley for baking bread is just 3,000 years old.   In Europe, people drank beer because water was demonstrated not to be safe for drinking and caused illness.  Mazen explained 3 guideline to better tasting beer:

First,beer must be bottled in dark color glasses: light ruins the flavor and taste

Second, pour beer in a glass for full inhalation of aroma,

Third, keep beer warm for a better taste; better, drink it warm…I tasted Mazen’s beer at lunch break and liked it.
Clara Sfeir improvised a dance performance at (12:48).  Liliane Chlela produced and played the music for the dance.

Joanna Choukeir Hojeili talked at 1:00 pm. (Read link for further details on Joanna).  She talked about her idea “Imagination Studio”, a workshop planned for 30 youth who answered her innovative interview methods on October 1st.  The youth are from different Lebanese background, location, religion, culture…

The next day, Joanna received the all of 40 volunteer experts and professionals to aid in making the workshop a success. The workshop is to allow the youth of coming up with a practical project to implement as a collective group. Details on the outcome of the workshop is to transpire within 3 weeks.

Reine Abbas spoke at 1:11 pm. The story is Reine and her husband were driving and were caught in between two mass demonstrations, blocking the road, and putting fire on tires.  This terrifying event catalyzed Reine into designing a video game Douma.  Now, you may shoot at politicians and sectarian leader, using a vast array of fire arms. Within a couple of days, 12,000 tried the video game.

Reine had to resolve this dangerous societal trend: First, how to react to violence; second, how to keep kids off the streets; and having a good understanding of Lebanon’s “leaders”

Bassam Jalgha talked at 1:20.  He was wondering why we have no car manufacturing facilities…He learned to play on the OUD, an Arabic traditional musical instrument when he was 12, but he could not tune it.  Now, he invented an equipment for tuning his Oud. It took Bassam two years to develop that instrument for lack of appropriate hi-tech spare parts.  He went on to tune the oud and play a piece.

Gilber Doumit talked at 1:30.  He tried to explain politically engaged activist entrepreneurship… Sort of researching, packaging, and negotiating social and governmental programs..  Do I have a purpose in life? Can I influence on system level? How to negotiate responsibly, by adapting to government requirement, and pragmatically influencing political programs?

We adjourned for lunch break.  The menu didn’t change much: Croissant in varieties of forms and shapes, bouchees of meat, cheese, juices, Nescafe, beer, but no vegetables or fruits. I know several vegan and vegetarian people who were dying of hunger. Time to be flexible and adaptive to fast culinary requirement and exigencies…In any case, the third session, after lunch and no siesta, is usually doomed to be more on the dosing side, regardless of how inspirational a speaker is.  Sort of the speaker must learn clowning to attracting attention first…

Social Group Dynamics in Lebanon

Joanna Choukeir published, in May 22, 2009, this thesis with the relevant literature review that defines the social structure in Lebanon, outlines barriers to social integration, and proposes solutions for overcoming these barriers; all in relation to youth members of social groups.

In describing social groups in Lebanon, this research makes frequent referencing to Safia Antoun Saadeh’s book ‘The Social Structure of Lebanon’ (Saadeh, 1992) . Dar Annahar, a prominent publishing house in Beirut, reviewed the book as a rare piece of work (adonis49 did also review this book extensively).  Although numerous books have been written about Lebanon in the past decades, very few were those that ‘dealt specifically and comprehensively with the social composition of Lebanon from a structural point of view.’ (Dar Annahar, 2008).

A Nominal Social Structure

Peter Blau distinguished two types of parameters in a social structure, the nominal and the graduated. The former divides the population into impermeable groups with no possibility of overlaps such as gender, religion or race, while the latter divides society into groups that may alter over time such as age, income or power. The correlation of both the nominal and graduated parameter leads to the ordinal parameter that forms the hierarchies of a social structure. (Saadeh, 1992 pp.19).

In Lebanon, the division of social groups is based on the nominal parameter of religious affiliation (Saadeh, 1992 pp.20).  The social groups incorporate three religions: Islam (including Druze), Christianity and Judaism, divided into 18 sects and dispersed in mixed and uniform towns and cities across Lebanon. Saadeh refers to these social groups as castes, because of their characteristic similarities.

The nominal social structure is reflected in the division of power in the government according to a consociational democratic system. Article 24 of the Lebanese Constitution states that The Chamber of Deputies should be elected on a confessional basis along three criteria: Equal representation between religions, proportional representation between sects and proportional representation between different geographic regions. 

The Doha agreement  for the 2009 elections equally represented two religious groups, Christians and Muslims, proportionally divided into 11 sects (each forming at least one political party) and distributed along 25 districts. The total is 128 deputees who are considered official representatives of their respective social groups.

Pillars

Barriers to Social Integration

Throughout history, the conflict between social groups in Lebanon witnessed everchanging solidarities and oppositions, many of which resulted in civil wars, the last ending in 1990. Today, although the conflict is mainly non-violent, Lebanese social groups are still noticeably isolated (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 74).

Kamal Salibi writes that actual contact between different social groups is almost entirely restricted to political co-operation (Salibi, 1977 pp. xiv).  Mohammed El Machnouk reiterates this by comparing the social structure to the Baalbeck pillars with only the top part – the government – holding the pillars – the social groups – together (Machnouk, 2001 min. 9:45).  Saadeh examines the links between social groups further, by expanding on five features of the post-civil war social structure that have erected or accentuated barriers to social integration (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 76) . The features are expanded on below, and discussed in relation to their effect on youth integration:

1– Socio-political rigidity: The most influential social group altered throughout historical episodes: Druzes during the Ottoman rule (1516-1918), Maronite Christians during and after the French Mandate (1926-1975) and Sunni Muslims following the 15-year Civil War (1995-present) (Salibi, 1977 & Traboulsi, 2007). Since the Independence in 1943, Article 95 of the Lebanese constitution gave social groups hierarchical supremacy in the government depending on the size of their communities. Thus, people became entrenched in their social groups and are continuously attempting to increase their numbers. This has created an ongoing competition among different social groups to advance in power at the expense of the others, thus breeding discrimination in youth on the basis of religious affiliation (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 76-79).

2– Segregation: The Civil War restructured an unofficial physical geographical segregation in such a way that every major social group now dominates at least one area: The Druze in the Shouf, the Shiites in the Bekaa and South Lebanon, the Sunnis in Tripoli and Sidon and parts of North Lebanon, and the Maronites in Metn, Keserwan and parts of North Lebanon. The population in the capital city Beirut is divided into Christians in East Beirut, Sunnis in most of West Beirut, and Shiites in South and some of West Beirut. Three decades of geographical segregation led to the growth of young individuals isolated from their counterparts in other social groups. They were brought up to, at best ignore, and at worse denigrate, the ‘other side’. This has led to fear, apprehension and distrust between young people of different social groups, thus deepening the lines of segregation (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 79-81).

3– Emphasis on differences rather than similarities: To set themselves apart as an identifiable community, each social group adopted a peculiar lifestyle through fashion, values, language and dialect. Elements of the Lebanese cultural identify were very homogeneous, so social groups looked outside Lebanon for cultural identities of nations they paralleled their religious beliefs to. Thus Sunnis associated with Saudi Arabia, Shiites with Iran, and Christians with the West. As a result, youth groups acquired in their upbringing, skills that allowed them to identify and judge members of other social groups by their physical appearance, their dialects or their interests (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 81-84).

4– Social institutions: A number of these furthered the continuation of disparate social groups.

First Institution is the Judiciary System.  It is divided into state laws (such as voting and business laws) that are set and controlled by the government, and exclusive personal status laws (such as marriage and inheritance) for each sect. Every social group must adhere to the personal status laws placed by the religious agency that represents it.

Therefore, Bkirki, supported by the Maronite Council, is the reference point for Maronite laws, Majlis al-Millah for Greek Orthodox, Dar al-Ifta for Sunni, Al Majlis al-Shii al-Aala for Shia, and Shaykh al-Aql for Druze. The absence of a common civil law for all has increased inequality and division among social groups. A simple example is family members of different religions being unable to inherit from one another because different personal status laws would apply for each religion (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 85-88).

The second institution is marriage. It is closely regulated because it can jeapordise the very existence of social groups if inter-community marriages and births are not supervised. On religious grounds, a Muslim woman is prohibited from marrying into another religious group, but a Christian woman is not. Furthermore, children follow the religious sect of their fathers. These two factors resulted in an increase in Muslims and decrease in Christians, giving the latter group an incentive to promote social controls and pressures that deter youth groups from marrying into other social groups, and encourage endogamy (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 88-89). From 1952 to the present, the Lawyer’s syndicate has requested numerously that civil marriage be initiated, but religious agencies have refused continuously. (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 86).

The third institution is educational system that limits social integration, which is separated into the private and public sectors. Before the civil war, the government that ran the public sector encouraged the mingling of students and staff of different social groups within the same institution, but from as ealry as 1976, public institutions started quickly dividing into branches representing the religious affiliation of the local area. In addition, the public sector is notorious for its lack of organization and low standards, and this has driven many parents who can afford it, to resort to the private sector for the education if their children.

Religious institutions mainly run this sector, and open their doors to students within the same affiliation with minor exceptions. In these private institutions, the content and cultural aspects of the teachings are driven along religious ideologies (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 90-91). As a consequence, both the public and private educational sectors today offer very limited opportunities in schools and universities for youth of different social groups to study in a diverse environment.

5– Social mobility: In general terms, this refers to the movement of individuals from one social group to another. If this movement occurs at the same level, it contributes largely to social integration. However, in Lebanon, it is only possible on an upward or downward level according to two strict conditions: The first is the upper or lower movement of the social group as a whole, and the second is the upper or lower movement of the individual within his/her own social group. Attempts that met the first condition in the past led to two civil wars, in 1958 and 1975, both guided by the Sunnis as they tried to move upwards towards the Maronite group. Attempts that met the second condition led to further segregation between members of the same social groups as they tried to unseat the feudal families and overtake supremacy of the social group. The most violent of these attempts was the devastating war in 1989 between Michel Aoun’s army and the Lebanese Forces. The consequence was a division that is still existent today in the Maronite social group. Safia Saadeh states that ambitious youths who seek to further their status beyond the social mobility restrictions in Lebanon find immigration as the only outlet (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 91-94).

Large-Pillars

A Solution to Social Segregation

In her concluding chapter, Saadeh contemplates different solutions for integrating divided social groups. She discusses a number of different alternatives in the political system; from maintaining consociational democracy to shifting towards complete democracy, fundamentalism or secularism. She dissects every system and controverts it offering reasons as to why it wouldn’t solve the problem (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 117-124). These arguments will not be covered here because the subject of this research is not aiming to alter the political system.  However, what this research is concerned with is the eventual solution that Saadeh proposes on the social rather than political level. She refers to this as social association through five steps (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 124-126):

1– Opening up geographical areas and mixing populations.

2– Promoting the proliferation of social groups into many parties rather than the strict division of Christian and Muslim. This provides a greater leeway for intergroup association.

3– Profiting from the open economy to encourage business interactions between members of different social groups.

4– Dividing labour opportunities geographically to encourage the mobility of workers into different areas.

5– Encouraging intergroup friendships and relationships.

In the recent past, a number of organisations such as Youth for Tolerance, the Forum for Development Culture and Dialogue and UNESCO, have placed at least one of these steps high on their agendas.

It is important to note that integration is not the amalgamation of a society into one social group (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 124). On the contrary, it is the tolerance, interaction and cooperation of diversified social groups for pluralistic existence; to replace segregation, discrimination and hostility that may culminate in their extinction.

References:

Article 24, The Lebanese Constitution. (1926, ammended 1995).

Dar Annahar (2008) Description: The Social Structure of Lebanon [Internet] Available from <http://www.darannahar.com/category/1000280/product/319/&gt;[Accessed 18 May 2009]

Doha agreement (2008).

Mashnouk, M. (2001) Interview in: The War of Lebanon, The Roots of Conflict. Episode 2. Directed by Omar Al-Issawi. Doha: Al Jazeera, 44min [Video: DVD]

Saadeh, S. A. (1992) The Social Structure of Lebanon: Democracy or Servitude? Beirut: Dar Annahar.

Salibi, K. (1977) The Modern History of Lebanon. New York: Caravan Books.

Traboulsi, F. (2007) A History of Modern Lebanon. London: Pluto Press.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2020
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Blog Stats

  • 1,406,477 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 756 other followers

%d bloggers like this: