Femena: Right, Peace, Inclusion

Femena: Right, Peace, Inclusion
Supporting WHRDs & progressive feminist movements in MENA & Asia.

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Authoritarianism, Crisis, and Shrinking Civic Space: The Persistent Challenges Faced by Syrian Civil Society

Credit: The Day After

Syrian civil society has experienced unprecedented challenges and transformations in the past two decades: from grappling with a regime that has consistently suppressed it and obstructed its development and growth, to a conflict that has fragmented it and forced it to evolve.  

Despite these obstacles, Syrian civil society has played an important role in Syria and continues to do so. The importance of civil society in Syria became particularly apparent following the chemical attacks that occurred multiple times throughout the Syrian conflict. Civil society organizations played a crucial role in documenting and reporting on these atrocities, providing aid to affected communities, and advocating for justice and accountability. Once more, the significance of civil society in Syria became notably evident following the two high-magnitude earthquakes that struck Syria and Turkey on 6 February 2023, resulting in the tragic loss of over 50,000 lives. These earthquakes struck many of the areas inhabited by refugees and internally displaced persons, areas previously impacted by the war’s destruction and consequent displacement. Syrians already suffering from a scarcity of services, a failing economy, and crumbling infrastructure due to war, were once again thrown into crisis, with the United Nations unable to effectively deliver aid to many affected regions. In the aftermath of the earthquakes, Syrian civil society stepped in and provided assistance to many earthquake victims – those injured and those displaced – in both regime-controlled and opposition-controlled areas of the country, or across the border to displaced Syrians in Turkey.  

It is precisely because of the many challenges that Syrian civil society confronts, as well as the vital role it plays that Femena seeks to amplify the voices of civil society actors and believes that they must be supported in their important work.