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May Rihani in Liberia with women and children

In Liberia with women and children

May Rihani with students in a classroom in Morocco

With students in a classroom in Morocco

Receiving the Said Akl Award in Beirut, Lebanon

Receiving the Said Akl Award in Beirut, Lebanon

Receiving the ADC Leadership Award, March 2015

Receiving the ADC Leadership Award,
March 2015


Her Work

May Rihani’s work has addressed numerous issues related to girls and women. She has researched, planned, designed, managed, and overseen numerous country and regional human development programs in educational reform, girls’ education, gender equity and integration, women’s leadership, women’s economic productivity, and gender-based violence.

She has worked primarily in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and consulted in other regions including Europe and the South Pacific.

She worked on projects addressing the above issues in the following countries:

Africa: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.

Middle East and North Africa: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Asia: Afghanistan, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan.

May Rihani’s in-depth knowledge in education and gender equity has attracted the attention of many donor organizations that have sought her ideas and analytical skills to support their missions. In just a few years, she succeeded in expanding the donor base of AED’s Center on Gender Equity to include not just traditional donors — such as USAID and the World Bank — but also the Asia Development Bank, the Netherlands AID, the British international development agency (DFID), UNICEF, UNFPA, GE Foundation, Johnson and Johnson Foundation, Kenora Foundation, Exxon Mobil, and others. These donors invited her input on projects that ranged between $500 million and $50 thousand in size.

In addition, May Rihani was elected as the Co-Chair of the Global Advisory Committee of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, UNGEI for 2008-2010. During the Global Advisory Committee Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2008, and after Rihani’s election as Co-Chair, the following statement was issued by UNGEI’ as UNGEI’s vision: “A world where all girls and boys are empowered through quality education to realize their full potential and contribute to transforming societies where gender equality becomes a reality”



As a result of her work May Rihani won many prestigious national and international awards, among them:

  • The ADC Women’s Empowerment Forum Leadership Award:  Washington DC, March 2015.
  • The Juliet Hollister Temple of Understanding Award:  New York, October 2012.
  • Leadership Award of the Center for Women’s Leadership in International Development:  Creative Associates International Inc., Washington, D.C., March 2012
  • Legacy Award: Academy for Educational Development, Washington, D.C., June 2011.
  • Al Waref Poetry Award: Al Waref Institute, Washington, D.C., January 2010.
  • The Khalil Gibran International Award: University of Maryland, April 2008.
  • Said Akl Award: Beirut, Lebanon, June 2004.
  • Capital Area Peacemaker Award: School of International Service, American University, Washington, D.C., March 1998.