The Syrian Women’s Political Movement’s statement on its participation in the Security Council session no. 8805

The Syrian Women’s Political Movement participated in the Security Council session on the political situation in Syria today, Friday, June 25, 2021, in which it presented its political position with regards to all the tragedies the Syrian people are enduring. The SWPM also presented its vision for the political solution, stressing that any political solution must be a comprehensive one. This means that We, as the SWPM, have one position from all the de facto forces regarding the issue of forced displacement and demographic change, like what has happened in Afrin, Zabadani, Madaya, Foua, Kefraya, Eastern Ghouta, Qusair, Daraa, Homs, and others.
There can be no comprehensive political solution without the participation of all components of the Syrian people and taking into account their specificities, in particular the Kurdish issue, which we consider a national issue par excellence, in addition to the other Syrian components including Syriac-Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, and others, and no political solution can be reached without all these components to restore the unity of Syria’s territories and its people.
Hereinafter is the SWPM’s intervention during the session:

Your Excellency, President of the Security Council, Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives, 

Allow me to start by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to address you today, during a time that requires commitment and courage for political action. 

I am honored to deliver my briefing on behalf of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement.

1 – As I present my comments today I carry with me the strength of a movement across Syria and the world. It is our hope that this Security Council briefing indicates that the international community is still concerned about the fate of the Syrian people. Today, as a consequence of war, the Syrian people are in need of humanitarian aid, which is critical to improving the immediate quality of life of millions of people which we are grateful it gets the attention it does. However, for a sustainable Syrian future, our hope lies in galvanizing a true political solution and supporting stability, security, and reconstruction of Syria. Then we won’t need international aid to survive.

2 – All of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement’s members inside Syria, myself included, will tell you what one of our colleagues so eloquently said: 

  “We women residing inside Syria are strong and we don’t entertain the pity we are subject to due to our geographic location. We chose to stay because we believe we have greater opportunities to create change in our surrounding communities, and virtual platforms have contributed to breaking down barriers between women inside and outside Syria. Being received and perceived through angles of sympathy makes us feel that we are weak and worthy of pity. With great respect for your noble sentiments. We are strong, we are heading in the right direction, and we persist in our struggle forward to get what we want.”

3 – International reports provide you with all the data on the deterioration of the living conditions of the Syrian people on several levels, the worst of which is the deprivation of the most basic elements of a normal life due to the high prices and the scarcity of job opportunities. Let alone that our children are deprived of education due to military activities which include the bombing of schools, frequent displacement, and children being forced to work to support their families because of the destitution that afflicts the hearts of most Syrians.

4 – I am an eyewitness to what women suffer due to the lack of economic security and stability, chaos, gender-based violence, displacement, kidnappings, and the spread of disease. This reality worsened with the coronavirus pandemic and the inability of hospitals to take in patients and provide what is necessary.

The causes of fear are similar in the regime-controlled areas in terms of the deteriorating living and health conditions, in addition to the fear of arbitrary arrest by the security services, which is still ongoing.

War economy has contributed to the spread of organized crime groups, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder. However, communication and solidarity remains strong between the regime-controlled areas and those outside it, occurring at a minimum through virtual means. The geographical division and the various de facto forces with their various agendas reinforced the societal and identity division and weakened the possibility of dialogue.

5 – Faced with this reality, the Syrian regime still does not recognize the Syrians residing outside its controlled area, and this was evident in the presidential elections where it reproduced itself for a new term, ignoring Security Council resolution  2254 on top of it. These mock elections did not include all Syrians at home and abroad and challenged the international community and ignored the road map for a political solution that provided for the completion of a new constitution and elections under the supervision of the United Nations, according to the new constitution.

From my own observations on the ground, and through SWPM’s national consultation sessions regarding the elections, which included input from women in fifteen regions inside and outside the regime’s control in Syria, it’s confirmed that this election is a fraud. This is confirmed before taking into consideration the security pressures from the Syrian regime to vote for itself  due to fear and that the voting card is required for official transactions such as renewing a travel document or the so-called “smart card” with which Syrians use to get bread, cooking gas, and motor fuel.. The whole process did not respect the most basic internationally recognized standards.

6 – In light of this reality where dangers of local chaotic escalations and international complications increase for Syria and the countries of the region, it is staggering how the international community has not been able to adopt a comprehensive political solution to implement the resolutions that your own respectful council has adopted, which are the cessation of military operations on all Syrian territories, supporting the work of the Constitutional Committee with a clear timeframe for the completion of a constitution in line with the interests and rights of Syrians, and the resumption of the political process by forming a transitional governing body by working on the four baskets simultaneously to reach a comprehensive solution formula.

We are fully aware that the comprehensive solution to which we aspire may require some time, but some steps can be taken in order to limit the deterioration of the security situation and in order to support those who seek to build confidence among the Syrian people, the first of whom are women. We need your support, built with trust, in order to begin implementing the conditions for establishing a safe and neutral environment in accordance with Resolution 2254. This can be accomplished by:

  • First and foremost, the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees, and the reveal of the fate of the abducted and forcibly disappeared, which is a cornerstone in building a safe and neutral environment. The detainees’ file is a non-negotiable cause and for us, it is our top priority.
  • Control of the armed groups that are supported regionally or internationally, who are not in service of Syrians but rather deepen the rift between us. 
  • To bring an end to the practices that contribute to demographic change, which happened in several regions in Syria, including Zabadani, Madaya, Kefraya, Al Foah, Al Qusayr, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa, Homs and Afrin. These practices include forced displacement, which is still practiced in various regions;
  • Work to achieve the necessary conditions to ensure the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Syrians to their original places of residence.
  • Working to link the political settlement to accountability for those responsible for crimes committed against Syrian women and men, as a first step on the path to justice.

Your Excellency, President of the Security Council,

7 – Syria was the first Arab country to grant women the right to vote in 1949. However, we find a decline in women’s political participation. We are working for equal and full citizenship, for justice to reach democracy, which remains incomplete and will always fall short without the participation of all active political forces in Syria who agree on a political solution, and without strengthening the political participation of Syrian women in the negotiating political process on an equal and integrated basis with men to build our future with a common position. This can be done by drafting a constitution that is a guarantor of women’s rights by defining the status of international conventions in the legislative system to transcend the legal system in order to abolish all kinds of discrimination against women. This will impact the sustainability of the political solution and its application on the ground and women’s participation in the development and implementation of security sector governance strategies, in achieving the standards of a safe and neutral environment, leading to reconstruction.

8 – We are confident in our ability to play a decisive and effective role in the peace process as a pressing force in the process of democratization for sustainable peace and sustainable development. The reality on the ground is not promising for women to be involved in the political decision, despite the election of a few in local councils.

9 – We, the Syrian Women’s Political Movement work with Syrian feminists in civil society by organizing a feminist agenda and its priorities, and on the coherence of the political track with the civil track, and the mechanism of women’s meaningful presence in decision-making centers and in all bodies and institutions with a percentage of no less than 30% of the total seats for women. Even if women delegates are not named, these seats should be kept vacant until women fill them. This percentage is a temporary positive measure to reach parity, in addition to working to implement Security Council Resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace and security-building processes.

The slogan of our general assembly meeting in the Syrian Women’s Political Movement this year was “No Women…No Legitimacy.”

Thank you for your attention, and once again thanks for your keenness to hear the voice of Syrian women.