A workshop for the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS) Peace Circles Project was held in Gaziantep, Turkey and attended by 15 Syrian women, from diverse areas and ages. These women have been invited to and participated in previous trainings associated with the “Women for the Future of Syria” program. This most recent workshop lasted for five days. CCSDS was interested in building the capacity of the participants and empowering them to be able to develop and plan their projects. Nariman, CCSDS’ project director, said that the workshop initially focused on pushing the women toward assuming their natural role in society despite the exceptional situation Syria is encountering, so the suggested projects were about the possibility to resolve local disputes.
During the final day, the workshop became a competition between participants, who presented their projects to a panel of CCSDS judges. The outcome was to choose peace messengers .
After participant Siba had presented her project before the judges, she told us about her experience:
“We had the enthusiasm to work on the project and make it successful, but there was some disruption. Personally, I needed to clarify what we want and can do with this project. However, the interaction and observance of others’ projects was so useful and brought new ideas we are able to incorporate. Then we will be able to activate the role of the woman through peace circles of different ages.”
Participant Noura also reflected on the workshop:
“I didn’t have the knowledge of working on peace projects, and most of us lack the experience in planning projects and presenting a complete proposal within three days. I have gained enough experience so that I was able to plan a project, build partners and make new friends in such a short amount of time, the thing that helped a lot in exchanging experiences amongst us. My project will be peace circles and discussion groups for women ages 10 to 25. Women will of course be the main force in the project, since women are not only less violent than men but also more affected by war. Besides bearing the responsibility of caring for her family while men are restricted in movement and they are more into fighting. I have chosen this age group of women since they are the ones with the energy and enthusiasm and have more time, since the project is going to be implemented during summer, so they won’t have so much study. They will be free to build this network, especially the online network”
Participant Maya told us about a part of her project:
“I am so happy that I presented my project. It was such a great experience with a positive effect. What raised my self-trust was the applause at the end of the presentation due to the specialty of the project, which targets kids of displaced people in the Lattakia province. I am a volunteer in a kindergarten for displaced children in Lattakia and I have witnessed kidnapping of the children. The number of kidnapped children reached five in the school I am working in. This has pushed me to write such a proposal that may make a change in the life of those kids.
The training was so important and useful, but there was pressure of time and information although the trainers did a great effort in simplifying things, delivering the ideas, interacting with us and answering all questions.”
The Peace Circles project led by Syrian women is a part of the program “Women for the future of Syria” which aims mainly at including women and enabling them for leadership and real participation in deciding the shape of society and building the state, starting from the local narrow space till participating in decision making on the state level.