- By: Mona Katoub
- updated: January 7, 2021
- reading time: 6 Minutes and 4 seconds
Shams Antar from Al-Qamishli, BA in Education, a member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement, worked in teaching, now is devoted to creative writing and journalism.
Shams Antar was born in the city of Amouda and lived in the city of Al-Qamishli for more than 25 years. She studied in teachers the institute in Al-Qamishli, then she continued her studies and obtained a degree in education. Shams says “I have been teaching for years, and recently I decided to devote myself to writing. I am a member of the Kurdistan Authors union Syria. I have two books in the genre of short stories, and I am working on the third now, in addition to my journalistic writings”. Shams adds: “I was a member of the Free Kurdish Women Organization, and I represented the organization in the Kurdish National Council and left the organization two years ago to devote myself to writing, and now I pursue any work dedicated to women and children”.
Shams recalls her participation in the beginnings of the revolution saying “I did not believe it when people started chanting ”people want to overthrow the regime” the fear was owned by us for decades, the Syrians did not dare, before the revolution, to publicly criticize the regime, in fact, the revolution came and broke the silence and fear, we went out men and women, side by side, calling for our freedom and dignity as Syrians, and as Kurds who have been denied celebrations of their identity, language and culture for decades”.
“I was provoked by the absence of women from the places of political decision-making, even the Kurdish parties that made women some of their members did not allow them to reach decision-making positions and their presence was formal.”
On her motives for participating in the revolution, Shams says: “The state of terror that the security forces imposed on the Syrians were unbearable, the presence of a security element in a place was enough to destabilize anyone, so the charges are ready and there is no law that guarantees the protection of individuals, hence participation in the revolution was the only way to reach a change”.
In addition to demonstrating, Shams participated in awareness-raising actions, especially those related to women’s rights. Shams says “I was provoked by the absence of women from the places of political decision-making, even the Kurdish parties that made women some of their members did not allow them to reach decision-making positions and their presence was formal”. She adds “Based on that, we have started organizing lectures on political and gender empowerment of women, as well as vocational courses that help women to create job opportunities”.
Shams’s interest in political work is related to the reality of women, Shams says “When I was chosen to represent the Kurdish Women’s Organization in the Kurdish National Council and started participating in political sessions and meetings, the absence of women from decision-making positions stroke me, despite the fact that our society is rich with women who are capable in various fields, but Several factors gathered to stand in the way of women reaching higher positions, including economic, social, and religious. The change of this reality relays in the hands of women only, by educating themselves and demanding all their social and political rights, for equality will not be achieved without an equitable personal status law that guarantees the rights of all women Men”. Shams believes that women’s solidarity and support for each other would support their position and protect their demands from fading under the influence of male society.
On the challenges that hinder political action in general in Syria, Shams says “the dependence of the political decision on foreign agendas is the biggest obstacle to creating a sound political climate. The influential people in the country are tools for external parties driven by funding, but in regard to the challenges that hinder the work of Syrian women in the political affairs, Shams considers that the society’s fight against women on the basis of gender hinders any progress, whether in the political field or elsewhere, from the principle that you are a woman you have no right to do so, Intimidation and defamation if you do so, the consequences will be so and so.
Regarding her joining the Syrian women political movement, Shams says “By following the movement on social media, I found many points of intersection between my aspirations and the goals of the movement, I wanted to be part of a political feminist gathering to be a voice for women in general, and women in my region in particular, because I used to ask about women’s stories and their pain in my creative writing, and I want to contribute practically to supporting women to restore their most basic rights”.
On what shams hopes of the movement, she says “I hope the movement will be a link between the conflicting Syrian parties to bring the points of view closer together, and that the movement will have a role in the new Syrian constitution and any law enacted for the country. I also hope that the movement will pay attention to Kurdish women who have suffered multiple persecutions because they are women first and Kurds second. These women need great empowerment and support”.
‘‘The change of the reality of women relays in their hands only, by educating themselves and demanding all their social and political rights.’’
Shams believes that the priority at the moment is to stop the military operations. She says “We have lost many of our young women and men”. As for the Syria that she dreams of, she says “I dream of a Syria for everyone, from all backgrounds without discrimination, that everyone be equal before the constitution, and that religious classifications are removed from political life, so that persons will assume positions according to their competence, and that those calling for federalism are not seen as Separatists.and first and foremost I dream of a democratic Syria, where the authority protect the people and stand up to their interests, not to intimidate them, and to create a real civil society that defends individuals if any injustice from the government occurs to them.
And to Syrian women, Shams says “There is no room for barriers between us, no regional, national, religious, or other. Our true demands are the same. We want to regain our role while respecting the role of men, with no one has an advantage over the others. We are peace advocates, peace seekers and peacemakers.
On the depressing situations that Shams went through, she says “I feel sad when I remember the insulting statements made by some people affiliated with the opposition, about the Kurds”.
As for the most beautiful situations that Shams lived during the past nine years, she recalls the day of the martyrdom of Meshaal, the people of Homs and Hama came out chanting his name and raising signs bearing the name of Amuda and Al-Qamishli, these cities and its Kurd people were marginalized and unrecognized. In addition to my joy when the Kurdish National Council joined the coalition, we began to see Kurdish representation in Syrian political bodies.