Syria’s war transformed women’s roles through empowerment.
When violence broke call at Syria in 2011, Ghasak al-Ali was a highschool student. Now, at just 27, she is that the breadwinner for 11 members of her family – something that might are almost unthinkable before the war.
A decade of conflict is evolving traditional values towards gender roles as death, injury, emigration and disappearance into President Bashar al-Assad’s notorious jails have deprived tens of thousands of families of their male earners.
Women are being thrust into the role of the provider during a way few had experienced previously.
Al-Ali, who is from Saraqeb in rural Idlib, the country’s last rebel-held province, had to seek out work when she was 23 after her father broke his back and will not continue his employment. because the oldest of her siblings, she had to require responsibility for the family, earning from humanitarian work and later, as she built up her skills, from journalism.
“I know many ladies who have found themselves as breadwinners for his or her families and this has caused their status to vary dramatically. they’re not housewives, but hard-working women,” she said via a message from Idlib.
“The harsh conditions we lived through have completely changed the role of girls and men’s view of the necessity for ladies to figure .”
According to a report by global poverty and hunger charity Care, only 4 percent of Syrian families were headed by women before 2011. That figure has now risen to 22 percent.
Severe economic troubles and not enough food for people to eat are propelling even more women into trying to find work, with families struggling to deal with a 236 percent food increase in 2020 alone, consistent with figures from the planet Food Program (WFP). The United Nations says 60 percent of the population struggles to seek out enough food every day .
Women are disproportionately suffering from food scarcity, consistent with Care, having less access to formal jobs and fewer work skills, and people in work often need to also shoulder care-giving responsibilities reception . the advantages of economically empowering women, however, “extend far beyond financial well-being”.
“Women who are economically empowered also are more likely to be empowered in their households and communities, more ready to participate in decision-making. This reduces women’s risk of exploitation, marginalisation and vulnerability and results in long-term changes in social norms and economic structures that benefit entire communities,” the report said.
Changing long-held and deep-set societal norms, however, are often diligence for those leading the charge.
“The pressures of earning a living are huge – i used to be a student who took money from my father and now i’m someone liable for securing the lives of my relations . i’m frustrated by difficulties in getting jobs, in moving between cities, and in society’s view towards me working,” said al-Ali.
“I encounter challenges, especially at checkpoints because the only female on my team. I even have to require my brother with me for permission to undergo , and he has got to show documents to prove he’s my brother.”
The number of individuals killed during 10 years of fighting in Syria isn’t known, but UK-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights estimates it’s between 387,000 and 593,000. Almost seven million people are internally displaced, 40 percent of whom have fled their homes a minimum of 3 times , and 5.6 million have gone overseas, mostly to nearby Turkey and Lebanon.
Those who stayed are now faced with a collapsing currency and therefore the fallout from the financial crisis in neighbouring Lebanon, also as US sanctions on the Assad regime. On Tuesday, the Syrian pound hit its lowest black-market rate against the dollar, consistent with the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper, and is now worth 99 percent but before the war.
Adding further pressure, many families now risk losing their homes after a replacement legal amendment brought in by the cash-strapped government means those that didn’t do military service before the age of 43 must pay $8,000 or lose their property.
Continue to struggle
A continued boom in women joining the workforce could contribute to the economy and help protect their households from economic shocks and stresses. However, Ghalia al-Rahal, co-founder of Mazaya Centre for ladies in northwest Syria, said women still suffer from a scarcity of representation in decision-making roles, meaning creating meaningful change is tough going.
“There is not any human body for ladies to speak their demands and opinions on issues associated with women – like harassment, violence and exploitation – and problems with public concern that have implications for ladies , which limits the capacity for positive change,” she said.
“The reduced number of men means women are now liable for supporting their family and taking care of their needs, perhaps also caring for an injured husband, while society also exerts authority over her and restricts her behaviour.”
The Mazaya Centre works to empower women, educate them about their health and arm them with potential work skills like care , IT and literacy.
Al-Rahal said Syrian women who didn’t complete formal education are now taking over manual professions, like selling on stalls, making sweets, weaving, sewing, and dealing in agricultural lands or small factories. Those with education tend to figure in civil society organisations or become business owners.
“During the last round of displacements [amid the regime offensive to retake Idlib in 2019-2020], many ladies learned to drive and have acquired the power to coordinate work both inside and out of doors the house ,” she said.
“Women were among the primary to demand freedom at the start of the revolution. They were deliberately marginalised under the control of armed factions who didn’t give them representation, but they continued to wade through their civil work activity.”
In the uk , the us and Germany, war I pushed women into agriculture and production roles and it became a defining period for women’s equality. Could Syria’s war have an identical long-term legacy for its women?
“We have noticed real change within the level of awareness of women’s rights,” said Noura Abdel Karim, a project coordinator at the Maram Foundation, which helps vulnerable people in Syria.
“There are challenges facing working women during a cultural, social and ideological context regarding mixing with men and the way that affects family relations. However, many men are recognising women’s abilities and appreciate the economic empowerment, especially husbands who are left disabled.”
For al-Ali, working has given her a maturity and an understanding of life that she might not have developed otherwise.