Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a blog series by Muzna on the role of Syrian women in peace activism. Part 1 outlines women’s role in peacebuilding and politics over the last five decades. Part 2 highlights how Syrian women are currently working for peace, and Part 3 will profile Syrian women peace activists. Part 1 can be found here and Part 3 will be linked here once posted.
While women’s groups are the primary actors carrying out peacework on the ground in Syria, there are also numerous individual women peacebuilders inside the country. Syrian women’s peacebuilding efforts and initiatives not only generate peace and prevent violence at the grassroots level; they constitute substantial examples and sources to follow in designing a national plan tailored to local contexts. These peacebuilding efforts and activities include:
- Enhancing women’s roles in peacebuilding through political empowerment (Idlib, northern Syria);
- Promoting civil peace and coexistence (Aleppo, northern Syria);
- Combating child recruitment (Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria);
- Raising awareness on consequences of violence and women’s involvement in politics and negotiation processes (Al-Hasaka, northeastern Syria);
- Engendering the constitution and transitional justice mechanisms (Damascus and its countryside)
- Raising societal awareness on peaceful coexistence and combating violence (organizations with cross-border activities)
Syrian women activists and groups turn oppression into activist tools. While patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes against women are a significant challenge to peace activism, Syrian women creatively transform the obstacles they face into advantageous tactics. For instance, many Syrian female activists use the preconceived stereotype that ‘women are innately peaceful’ in order to influence mediation processes and prevent violence in their communities. Another example is how women activists benefit from restrictive dress codes (such as the niqab) in ISIS controlled areas to hide their identities and thus avoid being persecuted for the peaceful work that they do.
Read Part 1 of Muzna’s blog series here.