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Country

Lebanon

Sector(s)

Known for Being

The first Lebanese woman to study medicine abroad.

The first Arab graduate from the Women's College of Pennsylvania.

The first woman physician trained abroad to open a private practice in Beirut.

Major Accomplishments

Dr. Saniyya Habboub was the first Lebanese woman to study medicine abroad, and the only Arab graduate from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, at that time. Habboub attended the American Junior College for Women, as well as the American University of Beirut (AUB). However, because women were not permitted to join AUB's medical program at the time, she decided to pursue a medical degree in the United States instead. Habboub earned her medical degree in 1931 and stayed in the United States into 1932 for training as an intern in obstetrics and gynecology.

In 1932, she returned to Lebanon and opened a small clinic with free services for women who could not afford her fee. Thus, she became the first woman physician trained abroad to open a private practice in Beirut. Habboub continued her medical career by working with the Red Cross, the Muslim Orphan's Home, and the Young Women's Muslim Association. She received a Health Medal of Merit in 1982 from the Lebanese government to mark her fiftieth year as a medical doctor.
In a posthumous tribute to Habboub, the An-Nahar newspaper published one of her 1948 articles written to encourage young women to pursue higher education and realize their dreams. She wrote of her support for young women to have the freedom of choice in their style of dress as well as their careers, stating that the ideal would be for women and men to be equal, working together toward progress.

Last modified: 01/08/2019

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