Strengthening women,s Participation in The Northern of Syria
Based on the importance of the women’s role in building society and believing in their ability to effectively and creatively participate in various aspects of economic, cultural, social and political life, and due to being marginalized and discriminated on various levels, this study is conducted in order to understand women’s status in economic life; their opportunities to enter the labor market and explore whether the concerned parties have the interest to provide trainings that enrich women scientific and professional experience, capacity building, ability to participate in social activities, cultural awareness, and awareness of their rights, especially the right to education, as well as their ability to participate in political life and decision making. It aims as well at revealing the main challenges that prevent them from optimally playing their role in society and to propose solutions and measures that can contribute to women empowerment.
The study, conducted in May 2019, covered the liberated regions of north Syria i.e. Aleppo and Idleb governates; Al-Atareb, Kafrnaha and Daret Azza in Aleppo, Ariha and Maara Al-Nu’man in Idleb. The study was conducted by interviewing ten key informants concerned in women’s affairs (Two key informants in each of the previously mentioned regions), and by conducting an FGD (focus group discussion) in each region gathering a number of females and posing open-ended questions to obtain in-depth information about women status. Additionally, a questionnaire of closed-ended questions type, including questions related to each sex, was distributed to 300 females and 100 males to reach results that can be generalized on the studied communities.
The study showed that the percentage of female workers in the society is somehow low, despite the availability of many areas that are appropriate to the nature of women whether in the academic or profession fields. Some of these areas are significant opportunities for women as they can work at home such as sewing, hair dressing and online jobs. The main reason behind women inability to launch their own businesses is the lack of fund and experience in the field of work, especially when the majority of trainings provided by vocational training and capacity building programs are suitable for males not females such as, blacksmith, carpentry, sanitation and electricity installation.
On the cultural and educational level, the study indicates a considerable decline in women cultural awareness where the majority of women are ignorant of their rights due to the norms and traditions of the society and the absence of gender equality notion. Low level of education among females has also been noticed where 13% of females are graduated and only 2% continued their postgraduate study. This is due to the lack of women-targeted cultural and awareness-raising activities and the lack of the number of women bodies and unions concerned with defending women and raising their awareness. Let alone the lack of serious interest of international donors to fund awareness-raising activities, the absence of any significant role of the women in political life as they do not occupy decision-making positions due to community beliefs as well as extreme ideology of some armed groups rejecting of women’s participation.
In addition to the previously-mentioned, there is a variety of general factors that hinder women participation such as security status i.e. the increase in kidnapping cases, theft and harassment, as what happened in Ariha City where two female students have been kidnapped, and especially in the absence of public transportation, and fear of bombings and systematized bombardment by Al-Assad regime, that targets Infrastructure and vital facilities such as hospitals, schools, governmental institutions and places of civilians, as well as women inability to play any active role in society due to being busy with fulfilling family requirements and caring for their children, where childcare centers are unavailable.
Consequently, it is recommended in the study that awareness campaign be carried out at various levels, targeting both society and women to raise awareness of the significance of women’s role and their ability to influence and participate in society development. Women issues advocacy campaigns should be launched intensively. It is also important to increase the funding of civic bodies and groups concerned with defending women’s rights and to seek employment opportunities for women through financing small-scale support programs. Vocational training and capacity-building programs for women should be increased as well. Working on launching a magazine that covers various topics of interest to women so that their capacity to participate in community development gets better.
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