In a first of its kind initiative, more than forty Syrian women from all walks of social and political life, convened a working seminar in Cairo to form the “Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace” between October 30 and November 1 2012.
The working seminar was an opportunity to forge a united vision and shared efforts to create a role for Syrian women in all spheres of public affairs – especially those relating to fighting the violence spreading through the country, and to elevate peace as a universal value for all Syrians.
The three-day conference included discussions of the risks associated with Syria falling into a cycle of violence. Participants made presentations on the various human rights violations, specifically those faced by women as a result of the violence, internally displaced women, and refugees in neighboring countries. Through these discussions, participants reaffirmed the importance of involving women in peace building to bring an end to violence.
The working seminar concluded with the formal launch of the “Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace”, which aims to activate Syrian and international public opinion to lobby decision makers to adopt peaceful means in political life and to build a democratic state. The Forum also aims to create a culture of peace for all Syrians, especially since peace is one of the fundamental characteristics of Syrian culture. In addition to empowering local Syrian communities to take active roles in the peaceful political process, and emphasize civil peace in cooperation with and collaboration with Syrian and international groups who are committed to a peaceful and democratic political process.
This initiative also aims at ensuring that women are able to actively participate in peacemaking processes, building democracy, fully participate in public life, and work towards a unified vision for peace. It also builds on the solidarity of like-minded male activists, who pledged to work together with the Forum.
The working seminar issued a strategic action plan to achieve the Forum’s goals through the creation of five specialist working groups:
- Networking with organizations and groups committed to the goal of peace inside and outside the country,
- Building avenues of communication with Syrian civil society at the individual and organizational levels,
- Capacity building and formation of cadres necessary to undertake this campaign,
- Empowering civil society towards undertaking active roles and peace building, and
- Addressing the immediate and urgent needs of people caught up in the conflict.
These five groups have been tasked with preparing initiatives to bring the Forum’s goals to fruition on the ground.
The conference is a reflection of the will of Syrian women to work towards building a democratic and civil Syrian state, with just institutions and through peaceful means – an expression of the desire of Syrian women to assume their rightful roles in the country and to stop needless bloodshed.