Women are major players in countries’ development, and play a key role in building the society. According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “women’s lack of representation and empowerment not only affects their individual rights, but also hinders the development of nations as a whole.” (13 August 2012)
Unfortunately, in Syria, besides the human losses linked to the conflict, women pay the high price of war: forced marriage, rape as a weapon of war, slavery, widowhood, religious extremism … Furthermore, they are under-represented and under-estimated in Syrian society. They are key part of a prosperous future, yet they lack the power to improve their living conditions. Syrian law does not confer equal rights to men and women. According to UN councilor Sawsan Zakzak, Syrian women should play the most prominent role in the future of the country, from reconstruction to peacebuilding and community reconciliation. However, that will depend on the breadth of rights that they will obtain during and after the transitional process.
It is necessary and urgent to promote the empowerment of women in Syria so that they can provide for themselves and for their families, raise their voices against injustice, draw attention to the specific problems faced by women in Syria, and resist against dictatorship and fundamentalism.
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Our solution: training women to journalism in Syria
Our current project is to train women to journalism in Syria. This will help them not only to find a qualified job but also to make their voices heard and spread their messages. Women must no longer have their rights infringed. We train women who aspire to become journalists and give them adequate equipment so that they can deal with issues that are important to them.
Our project will take place in the Idleb Governorate, one of the worst hit areas. The region is being bombed on a daily basis by Assad’s army helicopters, and extremist armed groups are trying to impose their vision, particularly regarding the position of women in society. Civil society is fighting against Assad dictatorship as well as armed groups and fundamentalism, and embodies the hope of a peaceful and democratic transition for the country.
We will organize a first 6-day training to train 15 women to the basics of journalism in Ghouta (Damascus suburbs), region that has been besieged for years, which population lacks everything, and where the situation of women is extremely worrying.
Then we will conduct a second training of 12 women in partnership with the local Syrian groups StartPoint and the Syrian Female Journalist Network. These 12 bloggers will be trained by expert teachers in the field of media and women’s rights for a period of 6 days. They will then be supported for 6 months (renewable) during which they will run a blog presenting a diverse and attractive content (press, photo, audio and video) targeting Syrians in Syria and in refugee camps.
In addition to enabling bloggers to gain skills, the blog serves a broader purpose. Today, half the Syrian population is not listened to. With this blog, women will finally be able to express themselves and make their voices heard on subjects they have chosen. By doing so, they can participate in the public debate and influence civil society and local decisions. In addition, this blog will allow them to share positive and inspiring stories that highlight the crucial role that women have to play in Syrian society. Female readers will discover stories of female entrepreneurial initiatives and other best practices carried out by Syrian women, and thus be encouraged to participate more actively in civil society.