YWCA was introduced in the Middle East by the American missionaries in the late 19th century. It started in Turkey then in Syria and later in Lebanon.

1900-1912: Lebanon YWCA

  • Meetings in homes for Bible study and fellowship.
  • Work among students in mission schools.
  • The first local committee organized to work among women in Beirut.

1920: Post War Lebanon

  • Initiation of YWCA ‘Service Center’ at Jessie Taylor Memorial School, marking the first Center in Lebanon, the Beirut YWCA.
  • Opening of first hostel for girls.
  • Introduction of educational and recreational programs for women.

1924-1927: Move to Downtown Beirut Business Area

  • Work with children and Armenian refugees.
  • Introduction of Language and Business Classes.

1927–1935: Move to Fakhry Bey Street

  • First summer camp for girls at Araya.
  • Development of The Girl Reserves Movement.
  • Edma Bayouth, first Lebanese woman co-opted into the work of the YWCA.
  • Research on working conditions of women and girls in factories which prompted work on:
  • Problem of child labor.
  • Working conditions for women (Long hours, poor wages and malnutrition).

1936 –1940: Results of YWCA Research and Action

  • Formation of Nutrition camps in Beirut and the mountains.
  • Introduction of Night schools in different sections of Beirut
  • Inspection of factories with the help of YWCA volunteers and dismissal of underage children.
  • Team of A.U.B. student volunteers teaching in night schools.
  • Formation of a volunteer committee, including experts, to work on a labor law with special stress on child labor. This led to Legislation No.1946 stipulating:
  • 8 hours work/day
  • Maternity leave/sick leave
  • Non-employment of children under 13 years of age


  • Shift from American leadership to Lebanese
  • Work with displaced persons.
  • Introduction of Business girls clubs.
  • Special attention given to Leadership training for women.
  • Introduction of day camps for children.

1944 –1948:

  • Beirut YWCA programs housed in five rented localities.
  • Decision to have a YWCA building.
  • First building campaign.
  • Work with Palestinian refugees.

1951- 1962:

  • Vocational School established with the support of Point IV, the U.S. aid program.
  • Beirut day nursery initiated.
  • Purchase of plot in Ain Mreisseh and plans set for the building.
  • First Flower Show.


  • Inauguration of YWCA-Beirut building in Ain Mraisseh.
  • Initiation of education programs for working mothers with children at the day nursery.
  • Employment office started to help graduates of the vocational school.

1978–1991: Civil War in Lebanon

  • Special emphasis on emergency relief work and rehabilitation for displaced Lebanese.
  • Maintained standard of education and services, stopping only briefly in extremely dangerous conditions.


  • Emphasis on developing young women leaders.
  • Updating of vocational programs.
  • The YWCA called on by the Ministry of Education to help plan the public vocational training programs.


  • Resumption of flower and Plants Show.
  • New age series added to the Technical College Programs.
  • Introduction of new image to YWCA-Beirut:
  • Face lift to the existing logo
  • Printing of new brochures
  • Launching of Website
  • Revival of the newsletter
  • Initiation of The Community Service Committee for the support of Women in the Central
    Prison of Baabda.


  • Establishment of “Care for the Environment” and “Center for Women in Crisis” Committees.
  • Refurbishing of The Y Cultural Center by a donation from the People of Japan.
  • Addition of the third floor to the existing 2 floors of the YWCA Hostel.
  • The YWCA Beirut became accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • ‘Towards Inclusive Development in Lebanon’: The YWCA selected as an association suitable for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in social and economic life.
  • The priorities of CWIC revised to: The empowerment of women at all levels. Several projects implemented to serve this objective.


  • First annual celebration of the International Women’s day on March 8
  • Hobbies and Skills program initiated
  • Home Care training workshops started
  • ” Get Inspired” program introduced by the Leadership Committee
  • YWCA became a member of Women in Parliament coalition
  • YWCA-Beirut elected as coordinator of Women in Parliament coalition

We are still going on energized by the dedication and persistence of YWCA volunteers……

Reference: “The Lebanon YWCA, one hundred years of service” by Leila Shaheen Da Cruz

Bold & Transformative Leaders