- Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace
The Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace is a civilian organization that aims to empower women in peacemaking and to influence global and Syrian public opinions to pressure decision makers to work for peace. The Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace includes about three hundred activist men and women and some civil organizations. Working in most Syrian cities, we have organized teams in Damascus, the countryside around Damascus, Aleppo, Al-Sweida, and Homs that foster initiatives under the name Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace. Also, friends and supporters of the forum inside and outside Syria take part in our activities and follow our news.
The goal of the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace is to ensure that Syrian women play an effective role in achieving peace and building democracy and that they participate in Syria’s social and political life. We aim to achieve a unified vision for peace and to build solidarity among activist men and women through the forum. Our strategies concentrate on networking with organizations and groups that serve peace inside and outside the country, opening channels of communication in Syrian society among individuals and groups, developing the skills and potentials to carry out this campaign, enabling local communities to play active roles in peacemaking, and meeting the immediate and urgent needs of people affected by conflict.
At the invitation of Hivos (www.hivos.org/hivos-brief), a partner organization of Al-Karama (en.alkarama.org), we participated in the conference Syrian Women Making Peace in Cairo. The first of its kind, this conference included more than forty women from across the spectrum of Syrian society.
Our most important current initiative is the Resolution 1325 Project. The forum launched this project to educate women about the United Nations Resolution on Women, Peace, and Security, adopted in 2000 (www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps). The Syrian government has refused to set out a national plan to apply [End Page 244] the resolution. The forum established a national committee that has proposed a plan to implement this resolution in Syria.
The Making Changes through Art project works through three programs. (1) The Peace Choir, whose slogan is “Despite the war, we will sing,” comprises women of various ages and social and cultural backgrounds and gives them a space to express themselves, interact, and raise their voices for peace and the country in spite of the circumstances of war. The singer Shatha Hayek regularly instructs the choir, which aims to perform a special song for peace. (2) The Peace Walls program, under the concept of “death to life … ,” paints walls in Syrian cities that have been devastated by war and have moved on to reconstruction. Seventy artists and volunteers from different Syrian cities participated in the first stage of the Peace Wall in Al-Nabek. (3) The forum sponsored several art exhibits in 2014. The most important was You, a photography exhibition that focused on how artists represent Syrian women after the war. Another, In the Eyes of a Woman, focused on how women see other women.
The forum launched the experimental broadcasting station Souriat FM to be a free and interactive platform for discussing Syrian and Arab women’s issues through interesting, simple, specialized programs also available through social media. Many professional reporters living in Syria also report on and analyze women’s issues on Souriat FM.
Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace faces many challenges. We are regularly harassed, arrested, and exposed to defamation and the threat of being fired. We are deprived of the freedom to move around. We cannot obtain legal recognition of the organization, and it is difficult to obtain the necessary approvals for our activities in some cities. We lack funding, because we are not bound by an external agenda and are not under the authority of the state regime. We do politicizing work and resist the hidden agendas that some funding bodies try to impose. A major challenge is instability in our lives and the larger society, where situations are not always safe and information changes quickly.
Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace