WEATHER AUTHORITY : Flash Flood Warning View Alerts

Syria is devastated. Where are the women?

From their leadership in securing the recent peace accord in ...

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 6:25 AM
Updated: Feb 23, 2018 6:25 AM

From their leadership in securing the recent peace accord in Colombia to their contributions to the 1998 agreement ending 20-plus years of conflict in Northern Ireland, to Liberia and to the Philippines, women have largely been the architects of peace -- the kind that at first seemed impossible to find but was still somehow built to last.

If women could make it happen in these other parts of the world, why not try it in Syria? Why are women still not represented at the negotiating table?

We have studied women's contributions to stability around the world, and a new interactive report includes in-depth case studies and an index tracking women's participation in formal roles in peace processes from 1990 to the present. This and other research suggests that women's participation in peace negotiations makes the resulting agreement 64% less likely to fail and 35% more likely to last at least 15 years. The case studies explore how women participate in peace processes and why their inclusion advances security.

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence and urgent need, Syrian women have still been underrepresented throughout the peace process.

Earlier this week marked the deadliest days in the rebel-held areas of Syria in three years.

Two-hundred-fifty civilians, including scores of women and children, were killed in two days in government airstrikes and rocket bombardments in Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus. The attacks follow a recent escalation of violence as Russia and the Syrian government have pushed offensive operations into the suburbs of the besieged capital city; more than 700 people have been killed in the last three months. The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, estimates the war has ended the lives of over 400,000 people and displaced more than 11 million from their homes.

The uptick in brutal violence underscores the dire need for diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the conflict. Yet the latest round of peace talks, held in the Russian city of Sochi, crumbled earlier this month, following unsuccessful United Nations-led talks held in January. As the UN, Russia, the United States and other nations pursue a political solution to end the Syrian war, they should invest in a proven strategy to make a deal more likely and more likely to last: the inclusion of women.

Why Syrian women should be at the table

Although UN-led talks began in 2012, it was not until 2016 that de Mistura appointed an advisory board of 12 female leaders to participate as third-party observers in the Geneva peace talks. Notably, the parallel Russian-led talks have mostly blocked women's participation.

Women are also dramatically outnumbered in official roles in UN-led negotiations, comprising only 15% (four out of 26) of the opposition and government delegations at the December 2017 talks in Geneva. The newly launched Syrian Women's Political Movement is aiming for a 30% quota for women's participation to ensure an inclusive conflict-resolution process that delivers justice for all Syrian war victims.

Women's participation: It works, period

Although women have been underrepresented in formal peace processes in Syria, women have still made valuable contributions to securing peace in local communities across the country. Here are five ways in which women have made a difference in Syrian peace efforts.

They broadened the agenda. Women at the negotiating table and in civil society have raised a number of issues critical to long-term peace and recovery, including delivery of aid and food, the release of detainees, inquiries into disappearances, and the effects of economic sanctions. In addition, the Syrian Civil Society Platform -- a peace movement of nearly 200 organizations based in Syria and in neighboring refugee communities -- includes 50% women at the national level and works through local networks to advise negotiators on the situation on the ground.

They worked across divides. With members drawn from across the political spectrum, the women's advisory board has set an example for finding consensus on controversial issues that have stalled formal talks, including aid delivery and the release of detainees.

They have negotiated local ceasefires. Syrian women have successfully negotiated cessation of hostilities between armed actors in several areas to allow the passage of aid. In the Damascus suburb of Zabadani, for example, a group of local women pressured a militia to accept a 20-day ceasefire with regime forces. In Banias, the government heeded the demands of 2,000 women and children who blocked a highway, resulting in the release of hundreds of men from neighboring villages who had been illegally rounded up. In another area, one activist recounted that when a group of armed fighters entered their village, "the men couldn't go outside because they would have been shot or abducted. In the end, it was the women who surrounded the fighters and drove them out of the village."

They have done the work local governments should do. Women in civil society groups have also worked in field hospitals and schools, distributed food and medicine, and organized nonviolent protests. In one opposition-held city, women formed an all-female police brigade that has access to areas that their male counterparts do not, and provides families with critical services.

They have documented human rights violations. A number of women and women's groups report kidnappings, detentions, disappearances and other human rights violations by armed actors in Syria. These activists include the founders of the Violation Documentation Center, which was one of the first organizations to report attacks involving chemical weapons. These groups are providing critical data and analysis to international watchdogs and parties to formal negotiations.

Substantial evidence confirms that women's participation in peace and security processes increases the likelihood and sustainability of peace. The United Nations, United States and other stakeholders in Syria should ensure that Syrian women have a seat at the table and an opportunity to help bring an end to Syria's war.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31257

Reported Deaths: 1114
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
DeSoto162016
Madison131434
Jones112849
Neshoba99271
Rankin95112
Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
Scott77315
Jackson63816
Copiah60715
Washington5919
Leake57819
Holmes55741
Lee55219
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51618
Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
Lincoln46634
Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
Lafayette3934
Attala36123
Covington3595
Panola3526
Bolivar34014
Newton3399
Simpson3233
Adams31318
Pontotoc2926
Tate28810
Marion28411
Chickasaw27918
Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
Winston2666
Jasper2636
Pearl River25732
Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 45263

Reported Deaths: 1007
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 81°
Columbus
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Overcast
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather