International Women’s Day

Joint Statement by Muhannad Hadi, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis and Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States, on the occasion of International Women’s Day

Date: Monday, March 8, 2021

Amman, 8 March 2021 - As we mark the grim tenth anniversary of the crisis in Syria in the context of a deepening humanitarian situation, compounded by the impacts of an economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to redouble efforts to advance women’s rights and to further strengthen women’s voices and leadership.

Women are a driving force in leading on the advancement of women’s human rights and gender equality, in negotiating local ceasefires and humanitarian access, and responding to humanitarian needs.

From the onset of COVID-19, across Syria, women have led in mitigating the pandemic’s adverse effects on those most vulnerable. They have taken on additional care responsibilities, in a context marked by significant civic space restrictions and scarce resources, challenging their access to critical opportunities, including in education and employment. Women-led initiatives continue to provide much-needed health services in remote areas and advocate for better access to essential health services for all, such as sexual and reproductive health.

Syrian women continue to play a decisive role in shedding light on violence against women and girls, including behind closed doors. They have successfully advocated to repeal the honour killings’ mitigation circumstances excuse of Article 548 of the Syrian Penal Code in March 2020. Women have developed community-based networks to provide protection and support to isolated women survivors of violence, including of torture and sexual violence.

Despite the progress made, significant challenges persist for women and girls. In the denial of their right to participation, women´s voices are frequently silenced, disparaged and precluded from policy-making spaces. Women humanitarian workers and human rights defenders continue to face a shocking range of gendered risks and violations, including threats of sexual assault, rape, harassment and killings.

Structural causes for inequality and deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes and practices must be tackled in order to achieve women’s rights and a sustainable future for all. Humanitarian partners in Syria are engaging with women leaders. Critical support is being provided to alleviate strained health and socio-economic situations. But more is required to reach women and girls in the continuing humanitarian crises and health emergency. We know that lasting peace and sustainable development can only be achieved when women, including those most difficult to access, are an equal part of the solution. This must be a priority.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we call for urgent action by all, to end all forms of discrimination, to ensure the meaningful inclusion of women in all decision-making processes and stop violence against women and girls in Syria. Let us all be a part of ending this inequality and see a future where everyone is empowered to contribute to lasting peace in Syria.

For further information, please contact:

Torsten Lajoie Flyng, Strategic Communications Officer for OCHA Regional Office for the Syria Crisis, torsten.flyng@un.org

Diego de la Rosa, Regional Communications Specialist for UN Women Regional Office for Arab States, diego.delarosa@unwomen.org