Women on the Frontlines of Conflict Resolution: Community Voices from Syria, Iraq and Yemen

Hanan Tabbara and Garrett Rubin

In recent decades, the international community has made significant progress in addressing women’s experiences in conflict and security contexts. Yet parallel to widening recognition, and in some cases inclusion in formal peace agreements and activities, there is growing acknowledgment that national-level peace processes often fall short of representing or supporting women’s diverse contributions to peace in everyday life. In the MENA region, this fissure is evident from the spirited debates taking place in countries such as Syria and Yemen, where female activists have highlighted the need for stronger linkages between international, national and local efforts to bring about peace. In part, this disjuncture represents gendered forms of discrimination that marginalize women’s voices, and dismiss their skills, experiences and expertise in conflict resolution at the local level as inadequate for, or irrelevant to, formal activities in the national and international arena.

This report aims to amplify the voices and experiences of Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi women who make significant contributions to the stability and security of their communities through resolving and managing local conflict, yet whose efforts are often marginalized, dismissed and misrepresented as insignificant. Presented as a series of case studies, the report examines how women in the region engage, influence and shape local processes for conflict and dispute resolution. Based on more than 40 remote interviews with women from the respective country contexts, particular attention is paid to illuminating the strategies, tools and tactics underlying their efforts and experiences to build peace from the bottom up.

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