Investigations

Women in coordinating committees… The passive voice

In a conversation that took place between me and one of the committees’ activists recently, he expressed with sorrow that the “reputation” of the committees in their area is not so good. There are those who are circulating that the committees’ are “led by women”.. which is weakening the position of their activists by residents in this area!

On the one hand, it was fortunate for the Local Coordination Committees for elites of ladies to play a fundamental role in their continuation and progress of work within two years of the revolution. From colleague Yasmeen Al Brazi, the coordinator of the media office, who spends at least 24 hours of her day in revolutionary work with committees activists in their various offices! Greetings to her in the magnitude of what she gave and is giving.

Also Mrs. Laila Al Safadi, who undertook preparing and editing the committees’ newspaper with little available potentials, and continued her activism from her place of residence in our beloved Golan with Shahba coordination in Sweida, and as a member of the executive office.. Greetings to her also in the magnitude of what she gave and is giving.

I will not review all the names but will return to the activist’s comment above, where he considered the presence of women in positions of decision-making “weakness” and not the opposite. This is in spite of that in the same area, where some of its residents spoken of what we have mentioned earlier, there are certainly female media activists and relief workers.. so where is the problem?

More than that, it is true that the role of women at this level in coordination committees was major, but in return, only one coordination among dozens was represented by a woman. It is natural since it’s the coordination of “the gathering of Daraya’s free women”!

In preparing this article, we distributed a questionnaire on the coordination committees about the numbers of females in their staff and the activities carried out by them.

Only (16) coordination committees answered the questionnaire, and the result speaks for itself where none of the other coordination committees had females working in their staff whatsoever.

Coordination committees that have more than four female activists in their staff were only Shahba, jdeidet artouz, Hanano Movement, Masyaf, Unified Hasaka, and Inkhil!

Each of Ariha, Al Atareb, and Al Sanamayn had between two to four female activists, while Kafroma and Al Zabadani had between one to two female activists. Other coordination committees: Zero women.

Women role in Areha coordination ranges between printing leaflets, writing signs, and preparing written media reports “because a woman’s taste differs from that of a man’s in those sorts of things” says the coordination representative!

In jdeidet artouz, a woman does “activities” in which a man is preoccupied from and that need a woman’s sense! From activities related to drawings, home arts, manufacturing flags, and activities for children, as expressed by the coordination representative.

In Unified Hasaka, female activists work in relief affairs, distributing leaflets, planning protests, and human rights monitoring. In Inkhil, women sew revolution flags, write signs, aid the wounded, distribute food baskets, and cook food for members of the Free Army.. But they also do extremely dangerous jobs. Who could forget the free women of Inkhil who have been detained for more than a year? Some women shelter the wanted and help them escape, they even smuggle weapons for dissenters! In Kafroma, a coordination representative says that women have participated in a highly effective way when protests were at their peak; they even stood as a barrier between the army and the protesters to prevent their arrested. She now plays the role of the “unknown soldier”.. as she “cooks for rebels! Taking care of their household burdens! In addition to her participation in succor work”

Anyway, I will admit that I have never met, during two years of committees work, any of the coordination’s’ female activists. In other words, none of the “male” activists have presented those female activists or given them a chance to participate, and the committees on their part have never asked about them!

The representative of Hamouriya’s coordination in Damascus suburbs confirmed that they have no women activism whatsoever, but in spite of this “women have a major role in the revolutionary movement in the city, but their activity is limited within the medical and educational staff, as women are considered to be the best in those fields”, he continues “The absence of her participation in the coordination is due to the nature of the people of East Ghouta and their reservation”.

And according to the representative of Al Sanamayn Coordination, the reason is due to the community’s culture that surrounds women, as she desires to commit to some activities in a conservative manner in order to abide to the social commitment she holds upon herself!

In the town of Tseel, women’s presence can be found in revolutionary work like protests and cooking for rebels. And the absence of women representation in the coordination is due to “the conservative nature of the town and being keen to women in terms of security”.

Surprisingly, the work of coordinations varies between media, civilian, and relief which are the same fields women are active in – except for cooking for rebels – even in the most conservative areas socially and religiously.  For example, isn’t preparing for a protest from writing signs and other activities considered a participation in the revolutionary movement? Or is it acceptable as long as it is outside an organized framework and apart from positions of responsibility.

In conclusion, women are active in relief, media, human rights, and field work. And the danger of what she does varies from cooking for rebels to smuggling weapons and sheltering the wanted. In spite of this, she does all these works by implementing demands while staying in the shadows, and is rarely heard in committees when suggesting an activity, or when disagreeing in a coordination, or even in a general quarrel out of the many quarrels we regularly go through as office and coordination activists. It is unfortunate. At least you can’t defeat a woman in a cyber quarrel!

Anyways, it is an honor for committees to have women in positions of decision-making.. but this does not set an example out of us, not when hundreds of female activists in various areas risk everything .. To end up being enslaved by all organizational frameworks from the smallest of all to the biggest, from coordinations to local councils.. it is strange how he who trusts a woman to be a shield between him and security in a protest.. and in sheltering a wanted person or ministering a wounded.. and does not trust her to participate in shaping the future of his children.

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