Soad Al-Aswad, Hand in Hand to Make the Change

Soad Al-Aswad, Hand in Hand
to Make the Change

Before the
revolution, Soad Al-Aswad was a housewife, completely dedicated to raising her six
children, but with the beginning of the revolution, she decided to work as living
conditions became difficult and because she wanted to help other widows in need
of work. So she wanted to share her experience with them and teach them a
profession that enables them to access the labor market and make a living. That
is how the idea of founding the Change Makers center came out. Soad says that because
of her love for science and her contact with communities that she did not know
before the revolution, she started to receive trainings and engage in courses
on transitional justice and human rights, along with the women working in the
center, without excluding the professional aspect that is still ongoing in some
camps, where the majority of women are illiterate and in need to learn this
type of work. At the same time, the center offered a series of trainings in the
city of Kafranbel on advocacy for nonviolence and peacebuilding.

Soad is living
in Kafranbel and she says about it, “it is my homeland, my belonging, my roots,
and my children.” She refuses to travel or leave unless her children’s
lives become in danger. She faces challenges just like other locals in the
city, such as fear of the regime and its henchmen, but for her the biggest
challenge is to prove themselves as working women and continue their work.

At the
beginning of the revolution, in 2011, Soad says that although her participation
along with other women was limited to watching peaceful demonstrations from the
roofs of houses, because she is living in a conservative society where women
were not allowed to go out and raise banners at the time. However, her motive for
the participation in this revolution was getting rid of an oppressive and
dictator regime that deprives people from wealth and prosperity of the country,
and disregard people’s civil and human rights. The regime, during the
revolution, proved that it is a criminal regime that is killing its own people
only because they peacefully demanded freedom.

beginning of my political engagement was by joining SWPM, because I wanted to
continue my work in empowering women. I aspire to contribute to realizing
equality between men and women at all levels, including the political level, reaching
equal representation in decision-making positions like men.”

The revolution marks the
beginning of her interest in politics, as she started to watch all local and
international news related to the revolution, “As women and housewives,
our conversations changed from topics like cooking and shopping to political discussions”.
Soad adds that she began her political engagement by joining the Syrian Women Political
Movement (SWPM), because she wanted to continue her work in empowering women. She
aspires to contribute to realizing equality between men and women at all
levels, including the political level, reaching equal representation in decision-making
positions like men. Soad says that she expects SWPM to achieve a lot at the
political level, believing in the ability of women to make an impact and their
determination to realize their goals and help other women to learn and restore their
rights. She also believes that SWPM reflects the voices of the women inside Syria
and it endeavors to realize their demands as women as well as realizing general

Soad believes
that up till now the environment is not suitable for political work inside
Syria. Achieving that requires continuous work, determination and belief in our
ability to reach our goals of making Syria a democratic country, where citizens
can have all their civil rights and they are equal before the law. Talking about
the challenges facing her work as a woman in politics, Soad thinks that the
biggest challenge is putting women in fixed frames, belittling the role of women,
looking down at what women can accomplish and the prejudging them, hearing
statements such as “If men couldn’t solve the political problem in Syria,
how would women be able to do so”. But years of work in political arena, you
can see that this unfair view of women is changing, after women earned their
position and succeeded in all fields, including politics.

“I am proud
that I witnessed firsthand lots of success stories achieved over the past years
by women who worked and challenged hard conditions and proved themselves

Soad says
that dialogue and joint action are two of the most important ways we must
follow to defend our cause. When women inside Syria feel that there is someone
working to communicate their voice and lift injustices practiced against them, this
will give them a strong motivation to steadfast and face all challenges they are
facing at all levels. She adds that she is proud that she witnessed firsthand lots
of success stories achieved over the past years by women whose husbands were killed
or detained. Those women had to work and challenge the hard conditions, they showed
resilience and proved themselves. At a personal level, Soad says that since she
is coming from a conservative community that didn’t allow women to go outdoors
without a male family member accompanying them before the revolution, she was
very happy when she was invited to travel to Turkey with members of the local
council, although she was the only woman among them. Her husband agreed to that
and even supported her strongly to continue. “I consider this step to be a
great achievement. Before the revolution, I wouldn’t imagine going out for 10
kilometers alone without a man with me” she says.

Soad says: “Women of
Syria: you are strugglers, strong and great women. You experienced oppression,
injustice, deprivation and the detention of your children, your husbands and your
fathers; this patience and endurance shall not be in vain and you will reap the
fruit. We are going on; we are stronger together; we must be a role model for the
women of Syria and the world, because Syrian women became well-known for their
strength, resilience and strong will. The more we are together, the stronger we
get; we and the generations to come”

Soad dreams
of a free, safe and democratic Syria, where there is no fear of expressing one’s
opinion or saying the truth.