Editor's note: NAYA’s Ministers' Series is devoted to spreading knowledge on the four women who broke the glass ceiling. They earned a seat at the table of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s January 2019 cabinet comprised of thirty members. As Annahar’s NAYA exclusively delves into the backgrounds of HE Rayya El Hassan, HE Nada Boustani-Khoury, HE Violette Khairallah Safadi, and HE Dr. May Chidiac, we learn who these women are, how they gained a seat at the table, and how we can pull up a chair for more women in the future. For further information, you can contact NAYA Editor Sally Farhat: Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
BEIRUT: Her Excellency Nada Boustani-Khoury never expected her ten years of hard work and dedication as an Adviser for the Ministry of Energy and Water, on top of four years in strategy in Paris, to translate into being appointed the Minister of Energy and Water in Lebanon, a country that struggles to provide clean, accessible water and electricity to its people.
“The result of my hard work is that I became the first woman minister from my political party, the youngest minister, and minister of one of the toughest ministries in Lebanon," Boustani-Khoury, told Annahar.
Being a minister was not a goal or a dream that Boustani-Khoury projected for herself in the near vicinity of the future.
“It happened step by step, little by little,” she said.
After working as an Adviser at the Ministry of Energy and Water, Boustani Khoury learned the ins and outs of the ministry. During her time at the ministry, she tasked with critical responsibilities such as being head of the Ministry Policy Paper and worked on projects including the organizational restructuring of the ministry and relevant institutions.
Boustani-Khoury stressed that you don’t have to have a political legacy or come from a certain type of background to be a minister.
“It’s very hard to believe but it’s the truth. I don't come from a political family; I come from a normal family. I worked hard because I believed in what I was doing, and I still believe in what I’m doing. I believe providing water and energy to the people of Lebanon is a duty,” Boustani-Khoury explained.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in Economics from Saint Joseph University in Beirut, she continued her postgraduate degree in management with a specialization in strategy and organization from the Paris Business School ESCP Europe.
“I did my management degree there. Then, I began working in a consulting firm on strategy and organization, but when we were assigned concentrations I was assigned to the Energy Sector. It wasn’t my specialty from education,” she told Annahar.
After spending four years working in an extremely competitive position in Paris, Boustani- Khoury had a calling to perform the same job but in her home country, Lebanon.
“I moved back to Lebanon in 2010. There was an article in January 2010 saying that the Ministry of Energy and Water, at the time, was putting in place a strategy based on three main axes. The first being infrastructure, the second renewable, and the third legal and corporatization... I came back in August 2010 to work on the corporatization of EDL, Electricite Du Liban," she said.
On Motherhood in Office
Boustani-Khoury is following the lead of progressive world leaders, such as Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, in pursuing a family while in office.
Boustani-Khoury’s pregnancy announcement was made via her Instagram, with a caption under a photo of her husband, and daughter on May 15th.
“Family First! My family is my greatest blessing, and YES we are growing. We will be welcoming our second baby by the end of this summer," read the minister’s photo caption.
Public concern for Her Excellency’s ability to run one of the most critical ministries, raise a young daughter, in addition to being pregnant in office, were immediately quashed by Boustani-Khoury’s staggering work-ethic.
When she’s not in the ministry or in a meeting, she can be spotted in flats, jeans, and a t-shirt on the ground and among people, discussing concerns and ideas and showing support for different initiatives.
Boustani-Khoury’s activity seemingly challenges the notion that there are twenty-four hours in a day.
“My colleagues are very supportive and surprised. I’m doing everything and more. I haven’t missed any activity; I’ve never stopped working because I was sick or tired due to my pregnancy, I’m just accommodating and working,” Boustani-Khoury said.
Despite performing all her duties with grace and a smile, Boustani-Khoury admits it’s not easy being a working mother, but It’s a choice and it’s possible.
“It's very challenging but we can do it, everyone can do it, and I encourage every woman who wants to have a successful career and have a family to do it because it's a choice," Boustani-Khoury said. "I'm not saying that all women should take this route, but, if they are deliberating for reasons concerning difficulty, they shouldn't think twice. It's all a matter of organization and management- it’s a balance.”
Advice for Young Women
A common thread in Boustani-Khoury's message is the unwavering power of hard work.
“You should believe in what you are doing, you should love what you are doing, and you should put forward the best version of yourself. A lot of hard work is necessary but it will pay off," Boustani-Khoury told Annahar.
The Ministry of Energy and Water is responsible for water, electricity, oil, minerals, mining, and quarrying, in accordance with the ministerial mandate of powers and duties.
With a desperate need for development in the energy and water sector, and the most austere budget in Lebanese history passing just last week for 2019, Boustani-Khoury told Annahar what the top priority projects the Ministry is working towards.
She made very clear that her first order of business, and the most paramount, is the update of the policy paper for the energy sector and its implementation.
The second priority launched by the ministry is the second licensing round of oil and gas.
“We’re working on a deadline of the first licensing round in order to have our first exploration before the end of 2019, and to have a successful second licensing round,” Boustani Khoury told Annahar.
The third priority of the Ministry of Energy and Water is the launching of the update of the water and wastewater strategy.
“We will have this ready by the end of the year and we will implement it to have water readily available,” Boustani-Khoury added.
Welcome to “NAYA,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. NAYA is devoted to women of all generations. NAYA Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.email@example.com
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