Is grappling with gender-sensitive dilemmas on Social Media is effective to provoke a social change?

Like anywhere else in the Middle East, Syrian women lack gender awareness capacity means to transgress and overrule the mainstream gender-based discriminatory practices. One of the pivotal changes the revolution has sufficed is the eye-opening advocacy campaign against a structural mainstream tradition and taboos. Equality and empowerment of women, sexual abuse, and other kinds of discrimination, marginalization, or harassment practices are becoming -openly-spoken about on the internet platforms and to a lesser extent in real life.

The Internet and social media became a pivotal instrument where women have awakened to counter exploitation online actions at the unconventional social media platform. Their online activism__via sharing Hashtags, for instance,__ holds a prolific output to overcome and combat discrimination and inequality and sexual abuse in their societies.

Over the past years, these deeds have made a tangible impact on enhancing women’s rights and freedoms from the shady social constraints. However, unlike social media activism, there is much work to be done in Syrian society on the ground. There is a compelling need yet to instill a non-hostile and social acceptance and tolerance towards women’s rights at all levels, let alone having a friendly environment to speak up without fearing any social or familial repercussion or stigmatization of the abuse they have undergone. 

Gender advocacy, but?

Women are aware of the tight social limitations of these campaigns and their capacity to make a trans-formative change.  

Maha Alfadle, 33 years old, is a volunteer with the Suriana Al-Amal team in women’s support and capacity building. She also a communication manager in the Day After Organization, said that social media activism had become an effective robust mean to raise people’s awareness and promote once-controversial concepts and conversations to be on the spotlight of the daily social interaction amid addressing the contrary, social practices, dis-empowerment and sexist discrimination against females in Syria. 

Though, the female sensitive online activism needs to be coupled with practical social action… real action and not only online. The advocate explains that “Local family members still precept such activities as a sheer religious taboo. This could make conservative parents fear those campaigns and pose; as a result, more restrictions on the females’ members of the family, namely when gender and sexual conversations suffice,

Maha Alfadle communication manager in the Day After Organization

To tailor an adequate social tolerance towards these subjects, activists and civil society groups in Syria_who proactively participate in these campaigns need to translate these activities into organized and comprehensive actions on the ground.

Fatima Alhamid, a 34 years old activist and women rights advocate, explains that the civil society actors should endorse engaging more with the local population on the ground to have a positive and productive way to cross gender-sensitive subjects’ tolerance. 

Conferences, meetings with local stakeholders gathering popular social figures, like local elderly figures, local authorities’ media and religious figures should be engaging with,

Fatima Alhamid, a 34 years old activist and women rights advocate

She also explains that actors need to bear in mind that Syrian lack internet access which even such topics become accepted online, Syrians on the ground would not be part of it. Hence, partaking with local figures would make a positive, tangible social change inevitably. 

Gendered structural 

Syrian society practices and traditions have always been gendered aginst women. This interrelates to the multiple causes, whether it was religious, societal, culturally inherited, or sheer ignorance. Having said that the ruling regime in Syria has always stereotyped women’s role and contributed to female marginalization and subordination to men. 

This stereotype also resonates in the legislation, governmental, local, and leadership roles in which women were either excluded or given a secretary role rather than leading one. This discriminatory policy also continued in the liberated areas, although with considerable progress in women’s rights and freedoms. 

As the inequality and stereotype of women are rooted in the society, Fatima explains that actors inside Syria ought to embark on a bottom-up approach strategy that involves all parts of the society in what the organization still considers a controversial conversation in the communities. 

On the same token, Maha asserts that online activities play a vital role in the attainment of women’s rights and freedoms, however not solely. She believes that men need to be themselves at the core of the gender-sensitive conversations to make the required impact.

“People have a misconception about the nature of gender and its relation to the religious, demeaning it as a taboo and religiously prohibited,

Sexual violence and harassment, early marriage issues conversation should be boosted and normalized to address and denounce their negative impact. 

In addition to online advocacy priceless efforts, the current and future deeds should raise people’s awareness about the misconception and stigmatization of speaking about these subjects.

Empowering women and deconstructing the social obstacles that keep women on the margin on society’s needs, real actions on the ground need to be admitted and implemented,

Fatima Alhamid, a 34 years old activist and women rights advocate