The past year has seen a shift in the political context in Syria. The Syrian regime regained most of the Syrian territory. International policy makers and political powers are now discussing and negotiating “reconstruction” and “post-conflict peacebuilding”. However, the winter 2017-2018 witnessed a worsening of the humanitarian situation in the country as revealed by the destruction and deterioration of civil society structures in Eastern Ghouta and the countryside of Idlib.
After 8 years of harsh, bloody and intense military conflicts, negotiations between various political powers invoking “reconciliation” and “justice” appear tense and complex. It is clear so far, despite women’s important social and political involvement within Syrian civil society, Syrian
women’s specific roles, positionalities and experiences have not yet been entirely taken into account when thinking of a future Syria. The international discourse focus on issues of “sexual violence” and “honor killings” in the frame of programs supposed to tackle gender specific violence appear at odds with the everyday realities of Syrian women and girls. Moreover, while attention has been drawn to rape and sexual violence, women’s voices, activist-based and grassroots initiatives regarding crucial issues such as the proliferation of weapons, as well as household survival, political and social equity are not given adequate attention and consideration.
Women Now for Development as the largest women’s network working inside Syria and neighboring countries since 2012 has developed, and works within, a holistic approach of gender justice through bottom-up and multi-layered perspectives. Our work focuses on education, economic empowerment, psycho-social support, awareness raising and grassroots campaigning. Its experienced and highly professional work with women and girls in Syrian or in displaced Syrian communities in neighboring countries makes it a unique example of feminist practices in context of conflicts.
In order to change this, we are pleased to share this research on Gender Justice and Feminist Knowledge Production in Syria. Through consultations with Syrian women and female human rights defenders, we have developed this paper in order to shed light on women’s concepts of justice and advance feminist knowledge production.