Despite the exclusion of Syrian women and civil society from any formal processes to resolve the ongoing conflict, a number of Syrian women organisations are proactively collaborating to advocate for their rights and call for the implementation of international mechanisms to safeguard their status.

WILPF held a side event at the Human Rights Council 26th session and invited Syrian women activists to inform the Human Rights Council and member states about the situation of women under the ongoing conflict and their recommendations to ensure women’s crucial role in the political transformation in Syria.

The event was moderated by Barbro Svedberg, MENA Agenda 1325 Project Manager at WILPF while Madeleine Rees, the Secretary-General of WILPF made a moving opening statement about state obligations towards the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The Syrian activists spoke about the current situation facing Syrian women within their different sectors and regions.

First to speak was Rajaa Altalli, co-founder and Co-Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS). Rajaa Altalli spoke about the significance surrounding the presence of women in local peace building initiatives and the importance of a localised approach to the peace process and humanitarian aid. Women play vital roles within society, and without their inclusion, key aspects of the peace process will be overlooked.

Sabah Hallak, Board Member of the Syrian Women’s League and founding Member of Syrian League for Citizenship continued by speaking about the challenges facing the Syrian Women Initiative for Peace and Democracy and the need for international support to insure women participation in the transitional period and beyond. Sabah Hallak has been continuously active within international spheres, advocating for women’s inclusion. Most recently she helped announce the UK National Action Plan for Syria in London last month.

Laila Alodaat human rights lawyer and MENA Associate at WILPF spoke about the impact of on going violence on women using from a legal perspective. She highlighted the challenges faced by civilians due to the complete failure of the rule of law and the need to adapt a civilians-centred strategy when aiming for a political solution in Syria.

And Finally, Syrian Journalist Milia Eidmouni who co-founded the Syrian Female Journalists Network spoke about the deteriorating situation in refugee camps and the disproportionate impact on women. She also provided recommendations for a sustainable and gender-sensitive approach in aid, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The women also released their recommendations for a peaceful Syria.

Although the work for a peaceful Syria is a long way from completion, the continued bravery of these activists proves their determination for a Syria free from conflict.