Today, June 10, Google Doodle celebrates the life of medical pioneer, Dr Saniya Habboub, one of Lebanon’s first female doctors to study and graduate from medical school in the United States in 1931.
Born in Beirut, Saniya Moustafa Habboub was the daughter of a Lebanese leather merchant, Moustafa Habboub and Adla al Jazairy, from Turkey. The doctor was one of the first three to graduate from the American Junior College for Women in Beirut (AJCW) in 1926. She then went on to study at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Next, Habboub traveled to America and became the first Arab woman to graduate with a degree in gynecology and obstetrics from the Women’s medical college of Pennsylvania. In appreciation of her victory, the university invited a Lebanese professor and historian from Princeton University to deliver the commencement speech on her graduation day, and she showed her gratitude to the college by providing a fund for future students with a scholarship in her name.
Inspired by a doctor in Damascus who studied medicine in the United States and then returned home to start their own practice, Habboub came back to Beirut with the same vision. Being the only woman doctor who studied abroad, she opened a small clinic in the locality called Bab Idriss, with free services for women who couldn’t afford her fee. Later, she co-founded the Lebanese Red Crescent Association and served as a board member for the Muslim Orphan’s Home and also worked with the Young Women’s Muslim Association, and received a ‘Health Medal of Merit’ from the Lebanese government in 1982 in recognition of her service as a doctor for 50 years.
Dr Habboub has been a great source of inspiration for generations of women and little girls to pursue an education. Her legacy continues to stay alive in the hearts of young women all around the world.