Astute minds have always found ways to each other, and these pairings aren’t always disastrous. In fact, sometimes these partnerships result in even greater productivity. One such couple that has contributed more then any other in human, civil, and women’s right, are Laure and Joseph Moghaizel. They maintained a romantic bond that centered around an intellectual and emotional intimacy unmatched by any of their other liaisons. They met at the age of 17 and were inseparable since.
Laure Moghaizel was a Lebanese attorney and prominent women’s rights advocate. Moghaizel was a founding member of many organizations including the Democratic Party of Lebanon, the Lebanese Association for Human Rights, and Bahithat (Lebanese Women Researchers).
For over half a century Laure Moghaizel struggled alongside her husband, Joseph, to include equal rights for women in Lebanese law and to advocate for women’s participation in politics. Considering violations of women’s rights to be integral to the broader plight of human rights violations in Lebanon, they successfully brought pressure on the Lebanese government to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1996.
Laure and Joseph dedicated their lives to the fight for social justice and human rights, which they felt had to transcend ideological, socioeconomic and sectarian differences. Joseph had a distinguished career as a lawyer, advocate for human rights, founder of several organization, including a political party, and a parliamentarian. He was very passionate for fairness and justice and equality and started at the age of 16 to form small like NGOs to help the poor.
The Moghaizels’ idealism and dedication allowed them to rise above the hurdles that divided many Lebanese between Christians and Muslims. They joined efforts with six other colleagues to launch the Democratic Party in 1970. However, the party folded on the eve of the civil war in 1975.
Between 1975 and 1990, Lebanon witnessed a bloody civil war that divided the country into a Christian East and a Muslim West. The civil war destroyed Lebanon’s social and economic structures, forcing many of Lebanon’s most productive citizens to flee the country. Laure Moghaizel took a courageous stance during the war trying to create a movement of nonviolent resistance that would allow Lebanese Christians and Muslims to come together and express their refusal to be segregated on the basis of religion or ethnicity. From the beginning of the war, Laure and Joseph insisted on finding a “third power” to undermine the conflict between the two sectarian blocs and to speak in the name of the silent majority. Joseph called for a third power that believed in progress, democracy, secularism, change, modernization, dialogue and nonviolence.
Motivated by these political and legal convictions, on October 29, 1985, they established the Lebanese Association for Human Rights (LAHR), which Joseph headed until his death. LAHR’s mission was to combat human rights violations and to advocate on behalf of Lebanese war victims. LAHR advanced a number of legal reforms for women’s rights, including its major achievement of urging the Lebanese government to adopt the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Meanwhile, Laure became a key organizer of several initiatives aimed at ending the civil war. She was convinced that “Peace can be only achieved through the joint struggle of men and women”. The war underlined the urgency of creating a national policy to engage female citizens in public life. The Moghaizel’s advocacy for women’s rights was central to their journey together as a couple and as activists. Laure took the lead. Joseph followed, supported, and campaigned beside her.
Together, Laure and Joseph Moghaizel became two pillars of committed activism and involved leadership. Most importantly, they were the driving force behind Lebanon’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women in 1996. Thanks to them, women in Lebanon were allowed to vote, to travel without their husband’s approval, the right to use contraception, to be witnesses, and for equality in all domains.
They glided together arm in arm, igniting passion and an intoxicating national pride with every step they took. For she had the eyes on justice and he was a renaissance man by excellence. But when this hectic pursuit for justice ended and the night took over with its twinkling stars, they once again glided together arm in arm to the intimacy of their home with their children. They were so united and so harmonized in their work and their convictions, that united they were able to change things for all of us. Together they made a difference…
This post is dedicated for those who believe in change and those who seek it, united we stand for our country, our freedom, and the belief of a better and just future… to Laure and Joseph Moghaizel.
- All the information gathered here is from an article called couple’s activism in Lebanon: the legacy of Laure Moghaizel by Rita Stephan
And here is an amazing 3-minute video on their Legacy: