American University of Beirut

Expert dialogue on the gendered impact of the Syrian crisis and the way forward

Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications,​​​

In celebration of Human Rights Day, a multi-stakeholders dialogue was held at AUB in a global webinar titled “The Disproportionate Impact of the Syrian Crisis: A Feminist Approach to Transformative Reparations." Attracting both in-person and virtual attendees, the event was organized by AUB's Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, in collaboration with the Arab Reform Initiative, the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) and the Embassy of Sweden.

There are more than 23 million people in Syria and neighboring host countries in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Challenges have risen from the Syrian war which have caused the loss and displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals; as well as millions of Syrians who were forced to seek refuge within and outside Syria. Humanitarian conditions of the displaced have worsened with the spread of the pandemic, economic crises in the region, and a lack in the human rights. The challenges faced by the women and girls among them are often more severe and less observed.

“The war in Syria continues to reap lives and livelihoods.  It is time to listen to the invisible and unheard voices of the most vulnerable and their aspirations for peace, freedom, and a safe future," said Lina Abou Habib, director of the Asfari Institute of Civil Society and Citizenship. “What does transformative justice and restoration mean for women and girls in their diversity in Syria? How do we make this a reality? How do we understand and address the root causes of the conflict?"

The dialogue highlighted the disproportionate gendered impact of the conflict in Syria on vulnerable groups and raised awareness on their increased vulnerability and marginalization. The event offered a space where feminist activists and scholars exchanged their experiences, insight, and analysis in their work on the gendered impact of the conflict in Syria. Participants engaged in evidence-based advocacy and policy discussions to identify a joint homegrown agenda for feminist action research that informs activists and to influence global mechanisms aiming at building a restorative justice system in Syria.​

Representatives from Syrian civil society, AUB academia and students, and the international community discussed various related areas including questions around sexual and reproductive health and rights, the forced return of women and children to Syria, the experience of survivors of detention, and the retaliation faced by women and girls. They also looked into pathways for global intersectional feminist solidarity with the women and girls of Syria and presented feminist critical reviews of the United Nations Women, Peace, and Security program and the Security Council resolution 1325 on it.

“Syria's war unfolded into one of the most terrifying tragedies of the post-Second World War era, in casualties, displacement, and destruction; however, there are also the invisible wounds, the inner ones, that will take decades to heal … the aggressions against souls and psyches, against the deep intimacy of the most fragile human beings of vulnerable and already marginalized communities and segments of the Syrian society," said Joseph Bahout, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. “These are the voices to whom this important event intends to give a space; this is our way to celebrate the International Human Rights Day."​

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