Under the name “Syrian Women… Advocacy… Peace-Building”, the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria finished the third workshop of the Women for the Future of Syria program in the Turkish city of Gaziantep between the 8th and the 12th of April 2013.  The workshop was sponsored by Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) and The Institute for Inclusive Security (IIS) provided the training.
Eighteen participants, from different areas in Syria and different backgrounds, attended this workshop.  The workshop, characterized as a forum for dialogue and the exchange of ideas, was a miniature model for a larger conversation about coexistence between different sects, religions and ethnicities.

The workshop focused on two main topics: advocacy and peace-building.  The primary objective of the program was to empower women to obtain all their rights in political participation and decision making, to teach them how to build peace circles inside Syria, and how to form a network that bridges all of Syria.  The participants were trained on these two topics using games, exercises, presentations and theoretical lectures.  During the lectures, there were many brainstorming sessions.  The movie “Let’s Pray the Devil Back to Hell” was also shown, highlighting by example the experience of Liberian women in an advocacy campaign they organized, which led to the resignation of the President.
Certificates were distributed at the end of the workshop in the presence of representatives from the sponsoring organizations and the head of the “Women for the Future of Syria” project, Miss Rajaa Al-Talli.  One of the participants, who is from Al-Raqqa, described the workshop as “An experience that opened our eyes to many things that explain the absence of women’s participation in decision-making.”

Despite the diversity of activities inside Syria, of which these women are part, and their different intellectual and ideological opinions, they all shared the same vision of a stable, prosperous, democratic Syria, where law and freedom of speech prevails.  As such, the workshop concentrated on the dangerous outcomes of using weapons as are now being used in Syria, and the importance of taking care of children, teaching them and, most importantly, reducing the domination of extremist opinions in the field of education, especially for kids under the age of 10.  Also addressed through the workshop was the subject of Syrian women’s rights and the necessity for them to take the lead in all aspects of life, namely political, economic, social and relief.
The workshop hosted four Syrian women leaders, working in the following different fields: political, humanitarian relief, civil peace and local councils.  The aim in hosting these women was for them to exchange experiences with the rest of the participants, and the interaction with the participants was very positive and effective.
One of the participants suggested allocating a specific time in future workshops to study the needs of different areas of Syria and the possible projects in each place.

Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria
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