Lebanese women race towards empowerment

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Thousands of woman raced on the streets of Beirut on Sunday in a competition entitled ‘‘You are really strong’’, just a few hours after two rockets hit a Beirut suburb - a reminder of the volatile political situation in the country.

But the women put politics aside and many of them ran the 10 kilometer stretch on Beirut’s waterfront to raise awareness for a number of causes that matter to Lebanese women from healthcare issues to demands for new legislation to give women more rights.

The race was organized by the Beirut Marathon Organization which holds the annual marathon in Beirut as well as other community-based challenges and races across the country for a number of charitable causes.

“Its importance is shedding light on women, that they should have a leading role in sports. In the 5 kilometer race and the mother’s race, there are more than 4,000 participants who have come to run today to raise their voice and say women make up half of society,’’ said May El Khatib, the president of the Beirut Marathon organization.

The runners said the race was an occasion for the women to prove their strengths to not only themselves but the rest of society.

“It is time for her to rise against her times and her society and everyone that abuses her. She is strong and makes up half of the society and she can achieve the same things that men achieve, so it is time, overcome your difficulties, you are strong. Like we proved ourselves today and reached the finish line, for sure she can overcome her obstacles and reach her goals,’’ said runner Rania Nasra.

The race was divided into three categories: the 10 km run, a 5 km fun run and 1 km run for mothers and their babies.

One woman said the race proved that women are strong, despite the challenges that they may face.

“This time it means a lot to me and every woman because it was organized for women only, there are no men in this race, it sends a message that we can do something on our own and we are all strong whether we are mothers or business owners,’’ said runner Dania.

The winners of the first and second place in the 10 km race were Lebanese nationals Sonia Wansa Hanna and Marie el Amm.

Ranking third was Ethiopian, Aragu Sisay Abate, who completed the race in 45 minutes and 15 seconds. Abate works as a maid in a household and has been living in Lebanon for 18 months.

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