The situation in Syria’s opposition-held areas continues to improve day by day. In the absence of a regular authority and job opportunities, residents of these areas have had to find alternative solutions to secure their livelihoods.
Women have grown significantly more empowered during the last years of the Syrian revolution. Hala Ibrahim, a lawyer and rights activist in Idlib, told Al-Monitor, “The presence of women in the workforce is now recognized. The community has begun to accept the idea of women being in the community as rights activists, [in the] media and carrying the Syrian revolution’s message like men.”
She said that women have been forced to fight for their place in the community and after it lost so many men. “As women, we have a responsibility to provide for our families.”
On April 8, the nongovernmental organization Barkat Amal for Women (A Glimpse of Hope) in Idlib held a graduation ceremony to conclude its vocational training for young women on mobile phone maintenance, electronic marketing and producing food for sale.
Director Susan Saeed explained to Al-Monitor that the project trained 20 young women from Idlib, saying, “This is our first major economic project. We opened a vocational training center in an Idlib neighborhood and have trained several nurses. We opened a center in the slums of Idlib to provide marginalized families there with services without making them travel for it.”
Barkat Amal for Women empowers women to engage politically and economically through its projects. Saeed said, “We have faced many challenges from the community during the implementation of our projects because [most work] was exclusively for men. However, we are still working and trying to change these ideas through dialogue with the community itself. We aspire to empower women politically because of women’s lack of representation in the political process.”
Bayan Dardoura, a young woman who completed the mobile maintenance training, explained that she participated “to gain experience that might secure her a job in the future.”
She told Al-Monitor that women prefer for their devices to be fixed by other women, citing security and privacy concerns when it comes to photos, for instance.
Dardoura added, “Now I can fix whatever malfunction is on the mobile. … We live in a conservative society where women would rather men don’t access their information.”
Dardoura noted that she faced criticism for attending the course, explaining that society rejects women who work. Although these challenges persist, they have made women determined to succeed.
Ferdos Abdulkareem, who completed the training in electronic marketing, told Al-Monitor that the course will help her reach financial stability working remotely from her home in Idlib.
She said, “We first learned how to manage projects, prepare a budget and then market that project in a profit-generating way, and even though our training has ended, we still can contact the consultants if we have any difficulties in the future.”
Dardoura and Abdulkareem agree that education is priceless. Dardoura said, “Other training workshops must be set up to provide the knowledge needed for women in Syrian society to ensure their economic self-sufficiency. We aspire to offer future training courses in other sectors, such as graphic design, for example.”
Saeed said that her center is currently working on its next project to support the independence of women in Idlib.