Commencement speech of Dr Maha Shuayb

Dr Maha Shuayb, Director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies, shared two experiences as a "woman academic with a disability, working in the field of human rights for over 15 years" during the 2023 commencement of the ArMA programme. 

As a researcher looking into the history of social and human rights movement in Lebanon, she was struck by the invisiblisation of people with disabilities and how most NGOs in Beirut are inaccessible to people with disabilities, while "the disabilities rights movement had supported many other groups, such as the families of the disappeared, the victims of torture, domestic workers [...], standing next to the most marginalised groups". 

As a researcher working on the right to education, she was attacked for what she had published. And even the university to which her center was affiliated did not protect her and her organisation. "What made the difference was all the colleagues who stood by and supported". 

She invited the graduates to "reflect on the choices we make and the angles [they] adopt in advocating for certain rights" and to remember "the importance of solidarity", withstanding the pressures of neoliberalism, donor's focus on specific groups of beneficiaries, prioritising one group over another. "Its impossible to fight these battles on one's own". Check out the video for the full message of Dr Shuayb's to the graduates. 

Graduation ceremony of the master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation, Institute of Political Science, 29th of September 2023, Medical Campus of Saint Joseph University of Beirut.