On International Women’s Day: Violence and serious violations in Syria

A Syrian woman gathers firewood in the northern Syrian camps for cooking and heating - 2022 (Enab Baladi)

A Syrian woman gathers firewood in the northern Syrian camps for cooking and heating - 2022 (Enab Baladi)


Najat Rushdi, the Deputy Envoy to Syria, stated that Syrian women are still facing terrible violence. Women in Syria are targeted for their political views, their ethnic affiliations, and the clear roles they play.

Speaking via “X,” today, Friday, March 8th, the UN official added that Syrian women are subjected to violence, rape, torture, abuse, marginalization, bullying, and discrimination. Despite these obstacles, the voice of the Syrian woman is growing stronger; women are striving for a more just society and working tirelessly to shape the political environment, defending to uncover the truth about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones, she said.

She also referred to the efforts of women in Syria to depoliticize education, while praising business activities, building relationships, running for public office, and seeking equal opportunities for themselves and the society that raises their children.

Rushdi’s remarks coincide with International Women’s Day, which falls annually on March 8th.

To ensure women are not overlooked

The United Nations, through its official website, stated that there are key areas that require collective action to ensure women are not overlooked. Investing in women is a human rights issue. Gender-based equality is considered the biggest challenge in human rights issues.

Among these areas is also gender-sensitive financing. Estimates suggest that 75% of countries will cut public spending by 2025 due to conflicts, rising fuel prices, and food, and austerity negatively impacts women.

The third area identified by the United Nations is the transition to a green, caring economy. The current economic system leads to the exacerbation of poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, negatively affecting women and marginalized groups.

Supporting feminist change-makers is one of the areas that require collective work, as feminist organizations play a pioneering role in addressing women’s poverty and inequality. Women receive only 0.13% of the total official development assistance.

The world has been celebrating International Women’s Day since 1911, after a group of women held an international conference in Denmark (in 1910) to pressure the international community to achieve gender equality.

At the time, the occasion was named “International Working Women’s Day,” to be officially adopted by the United Nations in 1975, and it became “International Women’s Day.”

Violations in numbers

A report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) calculated the main serious violations suffered by women in Syria since 2011 at the hands of the conflicting parties and the controlling forces.

According to the report issued today, Friday, about 16,442 women were killed by the conflict parties, about 12,000 of whom were killed by Syrian regime forces, responsible for about 73% of extrajudicial killings compared to the rest of the conflict parties.

About 10,205 women are still detained or forcibly disappeared since March 2011, among them 8,497 women by regime forces.

The report also documented at least 115 women killed by torture, 95 of whom were killed by regime forces, 14 women by elements of the Islamic State organization, two women by elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and a similar number by armed opposition factions, one case by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and another by other parties.

The SNHR counted at least 10,063 cases of sexual assault against women, with 7,076 cases by Syrian government forces, and 2,451 cases by elements of the Islamic State, 16 by the SDF, 19 cases committed by armed opposition factions and the Syrian National Army (SNA), and one case by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, making the regime responsible for about 75% of the sexual violence cases recorded by the network.

Moreover, humanitarian needs have been growing significantly and continuously for 13 years, exacerbated by the earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on February 6, 2023. Coupled with a shocking reduction from the World Food Programme (WFP) in the aid it provides throughout Syria and the termination of many humanitarian, international, and local organizations of their projects in the health, education, and water and shelter sectors, this decrease in continued support reflects on the humanitarian situation of the displaced in Syria during the year 2024, especially on women and children.


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