Syrian women and strengthening their role in the media

Since the beginning of the peaceful movement in March 2011 in Syria, Syrian women have stood side-by-side with men, through their participation in organizing demonstrations, but the role of women has subsequently been evident, as a media activist, journalist, field photographer, and media speaker.
 The syrian woman have emerged despite the great risks that surrounding her, especially after  the Syrian regime pushed toward turning the revolution from peace to militarization.
 
During the first years of the Syrian revolution, the active role of woman in media emerged, but it subsequently witnessed a decline as a result of the militarization of the revolution, the pursuit of the security apparatus of the Syrian regime, and the emergence of "jihadist" factions that undermined her work,  but all this risks did not prevent the Syrian woman from making her path in media,and following-up work from outside Syria in different circumstances, so she become an editor, broadcaster and trainer and hold administrative positions in alternative Syrian media organizations and institutions which had to bear responsibility for supporting Syrian women in general, and journalist women in particular.
 
On the occasion of International Women's Day,   which is annually held on March 8, the Syrian Journalists Association monitors in this report  a part of the efforts made by the Association and Syrian media institutions to support women and raise awareness of their work in the press.
 
The Syrian Journalists Association
Since the founding of the League in 2012, one of its basic principles has been affording equal opportunity regardless of gender, religion and ethnicity so woman assumed the League presidency in the first electoral cycle, and participated actively in its various committees over the following years.
 
The number of women journalists has witnessed a gradual increase since its foundation, and there are currently 85 journalists from 476 members, with a rate of up to 18 per cent,30 of them worked in the media field before 2011, and 55 after it.
 
In order to achieve its goals in enabling professional and ethical journalism and creating a convenient environment to work in the Syrian media sector, the League organized in cooperation with its partners and allies several training courses, in which Syrian journalists participated, and also organized special events and activities to support the role of women in the media and combat hate speech Against it.
 
In addition, The Syrian Center for Journalistic Freedom in in the League has documented all violations committed by various actors in Syria against press women since 2011.
 
According to the Center’s records, there were 36 documented violations against media women in Syria, including 7 women journalists were killed, 6 women were injured and beaten, 14 cases of arrest, detention and kidnapping, in addition to 9 other violations such as preventing coverage and threats, and the Syrian regime was responsible of 11 cases  from total violations.
 
The violations against the Syria journalist women, which still subjected to them, did not prevent her from continuing to work and receive international awards as an appreciation of her efforts to convey the truth and defend human rights.
 
Syrian Women Journalists Network
Since its establishment in 2012, the Syrian Women Journalists Network has worked to enhance and empower the capabilities of male and female workers in the media field, and empower women journalists to reach leadership roles in their institutions, as well as activate the role of the media in raising community awareness of women's issues and gender equality.
 
The network works on 4 projects to support women:
1- "Gender Radar": It monitors the media content of a number of emerging Syrian media institutions, the production of gender discourse analysis studies (gender), field visits, training workshops and advice for developing critical thinking within the institution and the working group in addition to recommendations for developing the editorial policy in a participatory manner.
 
2- Capacity Building: Since 2013, the network has provided 30 training, workshops and training for trainers which took place inside Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and also over the Internet, for media institutions and civil society organizations in Syria,  and due to these trainings  the Syrian Women Journalists Network was able to reach more than 200 men and women interested about raising awareness in issues.
 
3- Protection and Safety of Women Journalists: Providing mechanisms and alternatives to work in a safe environment free from violence and gender-based discrimination, especially for women journalists, whether during their work on the front lines and in the field or within institutions. The project includes providing knowledge, capacity building, and developing special policies in the prevention and protection from harassment Workplace exploitation, blackmail, electronic violence and gender discrimination.
 
4- Gaining support and advocacy: Since 2014, the network has begun working with Syrian civil society organizations and emerging media institutions to launch annually 3 campaigns with the aim of raising awareness of human rights, changing ideas and stereotypes about gender equality and justice, in order to reach a fair Syrian society for all men and women citizens.
 
The executive director of the Syrian Women Journalists Network , Rola Asad, said to the the Syrian Journalists Association wbsite: "I believe that journalist women have contributed to the development of the media sector, although this is not directly evident in the structural, organizational and institutional aspect, but without form in terms of content, because women journalists have had an important role in raising sensitive issues related to women”.
 
 
She added: "The expert opinion of men acquires a large area of media coverage, whether as a source of news or in analysis and commentary on news. In the year 2018, the Foundation began work on the first secure open source electronic database of 100 Syrian experts in its first year and active in various fields and disciplines.
 
Enab Baladi
The Syrian journalist woman participated in the establishment of the “Enab Baladi” media organization since its inception in 2011 by a group of activists and citizen journalists from Daria city in Damascus countryside.
 
In addition to the Foundation’s work to provide 
immediate coverage via its interactive multilingual website, and to publish a weekly publication, it plays an active role in empowering Syrian women journalists through preparing training programs.

 
The Editor in Chief of Enab Baladi, Jawad Sharbaji, told the Syrian Journalists Association: "The most important activity that Enab Baladi has been doing for a year and a half until now is to empower female journalists, through the" Mares "program, which includes practical theoretical training, and it depends on practical experience in producing news and press materials, and is accompanied by direct training on editing disc with experienced journalists. "
 
He added that the organization "has organized 7 trainings within the program, and 62 have been graduated are ready to work, including 52 journalists, 30 them have started working in Syrian media organizations and in the Enab Baladi Foundation."
 
 
Sharbaji said that "Enab Baladi succeeded through the 'Mares' program by giving women the opportunity to train in order to actually enter the field of journalism, and one of the positive indicators during all the courses organized by the program is the full commitment of female and male trainees, which indicates the strong desire to enter the journalistic work."
 
Women are now for development
Women are now for development is working to empower girls and women in Syria and Lebanon. The organization believes that meaningful participation of girls and women is essential to achieve equal, complete rights and a better future.
 
The organization undertakes 4 main programs:
Empowerment: through educational and professional programs that provide girls and women with knowledge and skills that enhance their independence and self-confidence.
 
Protection: Provide mental health services, including collective psychosocial support, individual case management, health and reproductive education, to women and families affected by trauma.
 
Participation: providing resources and tools to help women participate and attend public life through the Leadership Academy, civic education, which includes gender issues, women's rights, human rights, citizenship, and transitional justice.
 
Research and advocacy: The organization works to raise the voices of local women through epistemological research and campaigns led by women.

 
The organization's regional director, Lubna Kanawati, told the Syrian Journalists Association, "Women in the media have proven the importance of their presence in covering the event on the battlefield, as they have worked to highlight the needs of women and family and draw attention to women's problems within the conditions and ongoing challenges."
 
She added: "Syrian journalist woman has developed journalistic work because she seeks to achieve and build a career within an environment not only that does not support her but also it is not safe for her work ,that is why she develops new skills and capabilities to be able to access the journalistic material of excellent quality, although she faces all parties that seek to limit her work and prevent her from developing. "
 
 
It should be noted that the Association of Syrian Journalists, Syrian media organizations and civil society organizations are still working hard to achieve different visions aimed at empowering and supporting women and strengthening their position in many areas.