Syrian Women and the Refugee Crisis: Surviving the Conflict, Building Peace, and Taking New Gender Roles


Asaf, Yumna. 2017. "Syrian Women and the Refugee Crisis: Surviving the Conflict, Building Peace, and Taking New Gender Roles." Social Sciences 6 (3).

Author: Yumna Asaf


Women and men experience conflicts differently. Women, even as non-combatants, suffer a great harm. Wars are gendered, both in causes and consequences. Women are deliberately excluded from formal peace negotiations. Work done for the reconstruction of conflict ridden societies, fail to recognize with women’s realities and needs. Despite that, women have remained influential at the grassroots level in peace-building and rehabilitation. The paper uses the example of Syria, to explore beyond the most prominent perception of women borne out of an armed conflict, i.e., of the ‘victims of war’ and assesses, in how many different ways women have survived the Syrian conflict and have made efforts for peace, informally and formally, challenging the narrative of women as just a group with special needs and requirements. For this purpose, the paper has content analysis of the previous research, data, reports, mainstream news articles, and other relevant information on the topics of housing, food, health, work and financial security, changed roles, isolation, and gender-based violence to understand how women’s role in all these spheres are shaping new narratives for women, peace and security, distinct from the prevalent existing ones.

Keywords: women, armed conflicts, peacebuilding

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Households, Peacebuilding, Peace and Security, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Syria

Year: 2017

Gender, Conflict, Peace, and UNSC Resolution 1325


Shekhawat, Seema, ed. 2018. Gender, Conflict, Peace, and UNSC Resolution 1325. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Author: Seema Shekhawat


"There is an increasing amount of literature on various aspects of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. While appreciating this scholarship, this volume highlights some of the omissions and concerns to make a quality addition to the ongoing discourse on the intersection of gender with peace and security with a focus on 1325. It aims at a reality-check of the impressive to-dos list as the seventeen years since the Resolution passed provide an occasion to pause and ponder over the gap between the aspirations and the reality, the ideal and the practice, the promises and the action, the euphoria and the despair. The volume compiles carefully selected essays woven around Resolution 1325 to tease out the intricacies within both the Resolution and its implementation. Through a cocktail of well-known and some lesser-known case studies, the volume addresses complicated realities with the intention of impacting policy-making and the academic fields of gender, peace, and security. The volume emphasizes the significance of transforming formal peace making processes, and making them gender inclusive and gender sensitive by critically examining some omissions in the challenges that the Resolution implementation confronts. The major question the volume seeks to address is this: where are women positioned in the formal peace-making seventeen years after the adoption of Resolution 1325?" (Shekhawat 2018)
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Gender, Peace, and UNSC Resolution 1325
Seema Shekhawat
1. Redefining Women’s Roles in Internationl and Regional Law: The Case of Pre- and Post-War Peacebuilding in Liberia
Veronica Fynn Bruey
2. The Contribution of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325
Antal Berkes
3. Faith Matters in Women, Peace, and Security Practices
Elisabeth Porter
4. Creating or Improving a National Action Plan Based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325
Jan Marie Fritz
5. Widowhood Issues for Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and Subsequent Resolutions on Women, Peace, and Security
Margaret Owen
6. The Commodification of Intervention: The Example of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda
Corey Barr
7. Beyond Borders and Binaries: A Feminist Look at Preventing Violence and Achieving Peace in an Era of Mass Migration
Aurora E. Bewicke
8. The Disconnection between Theory and Practice: Achieving Item 8b of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325
Onyinyechukwu Onyido
9. Gender and Feminism in the Israeli Peace Movement: Beyond UNSCR 1325
Amanda Bennett
10. Conflict Ghosts: The Significance of UN Resolution 1325 for the Syrian Women in Years of Conflict
Emanuela C. Del Re
11. The UNSC Resolution 1325 and Cypriot Women’s Activism: Achievements and Challenges
Maria Hadjipavlou and Olga Demetriou
12. Victims, Nationalists, and Supporters: UNSCR 1325 and the Roles of Ethnic Women’s Organizations in Peacebuilding in Burma/Myanmar
Mollie Pepper
13. Gender and the Building Up of Many “Peaces”: A Decolonial Perspective from Colombia
Priscyll Anctil Avoine, Yuly Andrea Mejia Jerez, and Rachel Tillman
14. “It’s All About Patriarchy”: UNSCR 1325, Cultural Constrains, and Women in Kashmir
Seema Shekhawat

Topics: Armed Conflict, Conflict Prevention, Displacement & Migration, Feminisms, Gender, Peace and Security, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Religion, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, MENA, West Africa, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Southern Europe Countries: Colombia, Cyprus, India, Israel, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria

Year: 2018

Forced Prostitution: Unpacking the Links between Globalization, Neo-liberalism, and the Illicit Sex Trade


Banwell, Stacy. 2018. “Forced Prostitution: Unpacking the Links between Globalization, Neo-liberalism, and the Illicit Sex Trade.” Paper presented at Prostitution, Pimping and Trafficking, Conway Hall, London, September 5.

Author: Stacy Banwell


Transnational feminism attributes women’s social, political and economic marginalization to capitalism, class exploitation, neo-imperialism and neo-liberalism. It addresses the local and global contexts in which violence against women and girls occurs. Allied to this is the political economy approach. This approach addresses the relationship between the economic, the social and the political. Moving beyond direct acts of physical violence - by addressing structural forms of inequality and violence - the political economy approach broadens what is meant by violence and abuse. Accordingly, forced prostitution - resulting from a lack of employment opportunities - is considered a form of structural violence. Drawing on both of these perspectives, and focusing on Iraq and Syria, Dr Banwell examines how globalization and neo-liberalism impact the day-to-day lives of women and girls in war-shattered economies. The talk will conclude with some thoughts on what is being done to address gender-based violence and what measures can be taken to achieve gender equality in post-conflict situations.

Topics: Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Globalization, Political Economies, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Women, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, Syria

Year: 2018

The Role of Women in Post-IS Jihadist Transformation and in Countering Extremism


Perešin, Anita. 2019. "The Role of Women in Post-IS Jihadist Transformation and in Countering Extremism." In Militant Jihadism: Today and Tomorrow, edited by Serafetti Pektas and Johan Leman, 101-22. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Author: Anita Perešin


"Many jihadist organisations have recognised the importance of women in jihad and have systematically used them for their activities for decades. Female jihadists can be found in different jihadist organisations – from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Palestine to Syria, Iraq and the African continent – where their role is viewed as being as important as that of their male counterparts. The presence of female jihadists in Western countries is also on the rise.
With the proclamation of the Caliphate of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, the role of women in jihadist organisations received global publicity. By presenting and encouraging women as essential for the establishment of the new Muslim umma and preserving its longevity, IS introduced a new phase in its employment of women for the jihadist cause. The group succeeded in attracting more women from the West, both convert and born Muslims, than any other jihadist group had been able to do in the past. It also introduced a broad spectrum of roles that could be filled by women, not only in the territory where IS had gained control but also in their home countries. By giving the same importance to muhajirat1 and domestic female jihadists, and by promoting both passive and active roles for them in jihad, IS created a new generation of female jihadists and a “network of sisters”, motivated by a sense of empowerment and willing to support the group’s long-term objectives.
Strategically planned female jihadist activities, supported by a continuous promotion of their roles via the Internet, have made it possible for IS to continue to employ women for its global operations, even after the collapse of the Caliphate. The transformation of the group and its loss of “credibility” in governing the so-called Islamic State did not, in fact, diminish or extinguish its attractiveness for women. The group has given women the ability to keep their roles in the post-IS transformation era and has afforded itself the capacity to continue to be a prominent actor on the global jihadist scene. Such global promotion of women in jihad can motivate other jihadist groups to increase the employment of female cadres for their cause or to motivate radicalised women to act as lone wolves.
There are already many examples of women’s engagement in jihadist activities in Western countries. According to the European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (EUROPOL, 2017: 22), one in four people arrested in 2016 for terrorism-related offences were women. The 2017 report of the Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) on jihadist women warns that the threat women pose should not be underestimated (AIVD, 2017). A report from The Heritage Foundation in the same year also notes “a marked jump in the involvement of women in terrorist plots in Europe over the previous two years”2 (Barret, 2017: 24). Such dramatic growth of female involvement in jihadist terrorism leads to the “feminisation of jihad” (Brill Olcott and Haqqani, 2004),3 a trend that is expected to rise in the future. But it also offers the opportunity to take advantage of the presence of women in the counter-terrorism field, to more effectively counter jihadist narratives and plans, thanks to the former’s better insight into the mentality and approaches of the female terrorists" (Perešin 2019, 101-2).

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Religion, Terrorism Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, Syria

Year: 2019


"Two young sisters who arrive in Sweden having fled the war in Syria are becoming teenagers in a new world. They try to hold on to the memories of their once beautiful home while struggling to deal with the repercussions of growing up surrounded by war."


The Pains of the Sea

"Syrian and Iraqi immigrants are trying to cross the sea to reach Turkey. A mother must choose between the life of her child and her own life in the sea."


Commander Arian: A Story of Women, War and Freedom

"On the front line of the Syrian war, 30-year-old Commander Arian guides a female battalion towards the city of Kobane to release its people from the grip of ISIS in Alba Sotorra’s empowering tale of emancipation and freedom. When the war in Syria broke, a group of women from the Kurdish resistance assembled the YPJ—Women Protection Units. Arian, who witnessed at a young age the nefarious treatment of sexual assault victims, leads the unit and dedicates her life to battling ISIS.

Syrian Refugees in Germany: Gendered Narratives of Border Crossings

Isis Nusair

September 27, 2018

Campus Center, Room 3550B, UMass Boston

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This event is being cosponsored by the UMass Boston CLA Dean's Office; Department of Anthropology; Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance; Department of History; Department of Political Science; Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Honors College; the Sociology Club; the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies; and the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences.

Message from our Syrian Sisters

"Despite navigating a world of constant disruption, Syrian women and girls living as refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon bravely share why and how they continue to challenge inequalities and stereotypes in order to realize peace. These women peacebuilders may be separated by borders and war, but they have a single message to the world: Syrian women have ambitions and capacities to make change." 


Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution: the Islamic State at the ICC


Chertoff, Emily. 2017. “Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution: the Islamic State at the ICC." Yale Law Journal 126 (4): 1050-117.

Author: Emily Chertoff


Reports suggest that Islamic State, the terrorist "caliphate," has enslaved and brutalized thousands of women from the Yazidi ethnic minority of Syria and Northern Iraq. International criminal law has a name for what Islamic State has done to these women: gender-based persecution. This crime, which appears in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has only been charged once, and unsuccessfully, in the Court's two decades of existence. The case of the Yazidi women presents a promising opportunity to charge it again--and, potentially, to shift the lately unpromising trajectory of the Court, which has been weakened in recent months by a wave of defections by former member states. This Note uses heretofore unexamined jurisprudence of the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber to elaborate--element by element--how the Prosecutor of the Court could charge gender-based persecution against members of Islamic State. I argue that the prosecution of Islamic State would not just vindicate the rights of Yazidi survivors of Islamic State violence. It would help to consolidate an international norm against gender-based persecution in armed conflict--a norm that, until now, international law has only incompletely realized. This Note argues that only by prosecuting the crime of gender-based persecution can international criminal law cognize violence, like the attacks on Yazidi women, that is motivated not just by race, ethnicity, or gender, but by the victims' intersecting gender and ethnic or racial identities. I conclude by reflecting on the role that a series of prosecutions against perpetrators of gender-based persecution might have in restoring the legitimacy of the ailing ICC.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnicity, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Race, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Terrorism, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, Syria

Year: 2017


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