Intervention of the SWPM Member, Dima Moussa, in the Brussel’s Conference – “We Hear You” Bringing Women Grassroots Voices to the Heart of the Syrian Peace Process
- By: Mona Katoub
- updated: June 24, 2020
of the SWPM Member, Dima Moussa
in the Brussel’s Conference
Hear You” Bringing Women Grassroots Voices to the Heart of the Syrian
23 June 2020
I want to salute all Syrians,
especially the women working anywhere and everywhere to contribute to the peace
I also want to salute Syrians
who are suffering due to the dire economic situation all over Syria, you are
part of what drives our work.
I want to thank my colleagues
here today, for all the work they have done and continue to do to ensure that
women’s voices are heard, and the challenges they face and overcome to be able
to do what they do.
I do want to point out possibly
the only positive thing from the pandemic that has paralyzed the world’s
movement – it has made it possible to eliminate the problem of borders and
difficulties that have prevented many amazing Syrians, especially women like
Suad, Nivin, Mouna, and Huda from giving their testimonies directly. Something
to keep in mind going forward.
It is significant that we are
here today to talk about the importance of women’s voices in the peace process
in Syria, 20 years after adoption of UNSC 1325, which only put on paper what
should have been intuitive.
At the same time, it is
unfortunate that we still as women, two decades after 1325 and two decades into
the 21st century, have to come and talk about the importance of the role of
women in politics and in peace processes. Something that is not important
because a security council resolution says so, but because it is the right
thing to do.
This brings me to a major
challenge that we face in our work on a daily basis – we have the same
challenges that anyone involved in political work on Syria has with additional
challenges that come with being a woman working in politics and the public
space in general.
Most, if not all, of these
challenges stem from one major point, that is the incredibly and inexcusably
small number of women in this space.
This has made it difficult to be
able to get our voices heard through the “power in numbers” tactic or to have
the amount of pressure that more than 50% of Syrian society should be able to
have. Additionally, there are societal pressures and stereotypes, which are not
unique to Syria, these are things that women everywhere face, which discourage
many women from this field.
Some stereotypes that we have to
hear and respond to constantly is that women are too emotional to be
politicians or to be able to handle the pressures of public work, or that women
are merely ornamental in this space. I think the Syrian women present here
today, and most Syrian women, prove that it’s simply not true.
These challenges did not
discourage those of us who insisted on and were able to carry on and have been
working hard to overcome. One way, which is a work in progress, is illustrated
by this group here today. From the outset, we realized that the right thing to
do, and what would get more voices heard is to bridge political work with that
of civil society, humanitarian work, media work, and so forth. Women have
illustrated successfully the importance of erasing that disconnect between
political work and everything else. They go hand-in-hand. Something that our
male colleagues and men in politics in general have yet to realize.
We knew that what we needed to
do is not bring to the table our own voices but the voices of as many Syrian
women as we possibly could, and we have succeeded to a certain extent, but
there’s always room for improvement. In the end, when there are only two of us
in the opposition constitutional committee group out of 15, and we are talking
about the legal framework for the future Syria through a new constitution, we
do not want to talk as Dima or Bassma, we want to bring to the table women’s
perspectives on all things; and here is a very important point, we do not want
to talk about just women issues or laws directly affecting women, we need
women’s perspectives on everything.
I want to shed light here on
work that I am honored to have been part of through the Syrian Women’s
Political Movement, where we have worked through a “National Consultations”
program to consult with different groups of women on the ground from all parts
of Syria – the northwest, the northeast, and regime-controlled areas – and
based on those consultations we produce policy papers that we can put on the
table to say “this is what women think of the constitution, or reconstruction,
or economic security.”
Another example is the Gaziantep
Platform, which brings together Syrian women working in different fields and
from different areas, inside Syria and abroad, to exchange experiences and
ideas to come up with more comprehensive recommendations.
Support to such programs
designed by Syrian women is essential not only to provide more insight into
women’s views and needs, but also to further strengthen legitimacy of our
political work, until we achieve the modest 30% minimum needed at the table and
These are just two examples of
what can be done to overcome some of our challenges, our main challenge being that
we are a few voices in the political field, but we will continue to push for
more women to take their rightful place at the table, not because some security
council resolution says so, not because that’s what the international community
wants to see, but because it’s the right thing to do to reach sustainable peace
through real political transition by Syrians – ALL Syrians – and for Syrians –
ALL Syrians, women and men.