Between late-August and mid-September 2013, the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS) ran three workshops in Gaziantep, Turkey for female Syrian field activists.
The three workshops were conducted in collaboration with The Institute for Inclusive Security and The Creative Associates International.
Each workshop lasted five days and all were dedicated to increasing women’s awareness of national and international issues surrounding peace and security as well as to improve their ability to engage in civil society.
All of our participants demonstrated incredible bravery by overcoming all the security risks and obstacles of crossing the border in order to participate in the training.
The 59 trainees were selected from three bordering provinces to Turkey (Aleppo, Idlib and Al Hasakah). Diversity was prominent among our participants: some were lawyers while others were teachers and graduates with majors ranging from Economics to English Literature, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Media Studies. Ages also varied, ranging from some in their twenties to those in their fifties. Many different organizations were represented, such as women’s rights organizations, civil society organizations and student organizations. All other participants were either working individually or within groups as independent activists. Priority was given to female activists who had not had any previous opportunities to attend workshops outside of Syria in an attempt to reach a new generation of activists.
The training focused on negotiations; methods of advocacy; security and peace management; the role of women in these fields; the opportunities for women in civil society mobilization; and the inclusion of women in the state- and peace-building process. Another focus, digital security, was of particular interest as many interactive techniques were used in the training (computer analysis tools, debate sessions, documentary movies).
All these techniques severed to strengthen the values of teamwork and created an environment of communication among the trainees: giving them the opportunity to share their experiences and their opinions of current issues concerning their home regions. This all brought them closer together and cemented strong relationships of cooperation between them.
During the workshop, the participants discussed the most important challenges facing them today, and especially those related to security issues that prevent women from more active participation in this critical phase of Syrian history. The trainees shared their opinions about the wider Syrian context and their hopes for the future participation of women. They also studied other countries’ experiences of women in the peace building process and watched a number of documentaries concerning some specific examples.
All participants responded enthusiastically to the training and pledged to learn more and to delve deeper into these issues through future training programs. They showed a fantastic willingness to pass on the skills and information they learnt to other women inside of Syria. Indeed, some activists have already started to run training courses for women through their own organizations or in their own regions with the coordination of the CCSDS.
The training provided a great sense of hope, trust and conviction in their ability to make an impact in Syria by finding solutions for the problems and challenges that women continue to face in their communities. One of the trainees expressed her feelings by saying that: “We are the women for the future of Syria “.
The trainees were thankful for the support provided by the workshop organizers, including the funders, the trainers and CCSDS team. They were also thankful for their hosts’ hospitality throughout the duration of the workshop.
CCSDS shares the same belief that it will be the future work of the trainees, using their skills learnt through the workshop, that will represent the true worth of all the center’s efforts to put on the training. We remain hopeful that women will play a crucial role in our new Syrian society.
Center For Civil Society And Democray In Syria |CCSDS