News / Middle East

Syrian Women Tell Brahimi They Want Role in Peace Talks

FILE - Arab League-United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi addresses a news conference after a meeting on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Dec. 20, 2013.
FILE - Arab League-United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi addresses a news conference after a meeting on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Dec. 20, 2013.
Reuters
Syrian women's groups said on Monday they want international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi to give them a role in peace talks that are expected to begin next week.
 
They said women should make up at least 30 percent of all negotiating teams in the Geneva 2 talks, due to begin in Switzerland on Jan. 22, on ending the war in Syria.
 
Their demands include ensuring that any eventual constitution should guarantee equal citizenship to the Syrian people “in all their diversity and affiliations” and guarantee equality of men and women, penalizing all forms of discrimination and violence against women.
 
Four representatives of the Syrian women's groups will meet Brahimi on Tuesday to talk about how to put the demands into practice, having already consulted him, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women.
 
“His message was that as long as these are the demands of the Syrian women and they are coherent and they agree, he will take it forward,” she told Reuters.
 
The four women were elected from 47 women who drafted the demands in a three-day meeting in Geneva, a group that included representatives of Syrian women inside and outside the country.
 
“I think we can say that we represent the majority, inside the country and abroad,” said Sabah Alhallak, one of the four.
 
She said women's groups had been working on principles for a new constitution since 2011, having how seen the issue had been opened up in other “Arab Spring” revolutions.
 
“Women were looking at what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya and there were a lot of lessons to prepare ourselves and see what was coming our way,” Alhallak said.
 
Another of the four, Kefah ali Deeb, said the most pressing issue was to get detainees released from prison, which she said received little media attention.
 
“Do you believe that it is more important for you to cover how one of the Islamic groups has invaded a region rather than talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who are dying in prison?
 
“We have to withdraw this card from their hand. The case of the detainees - our families and friends and neighbors who are detained - is more important than all political cards,” Deeb said.
 
She told Reuters that the death rate in some prisons, such as Military Security Branch 215 in Damascus, had reached 30 a day, mainly due to torture or malnourishment.
 
Another priority was breaking the sieges which were driving stranded populations to starvation.
 
“If I tell you that there are children who are eating the leaves off the trees, you have to believe me. This is not my imagination.”
 
Rafif Jouejati, another of the four representatives and spokeswoman for the local coordination committees in Syria, said that if Geneva 2 failed, the women's groups would push for peace at Geneva 3, 4 or 5.
 
“We are lawyers and engineers and professors, we are housewives and nurses and other medical professionals, we are 50 percent of society,” she said.
 
“If Geneva 2 doesn't work, we will push the men who are making war to make peace.”

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid