As an extension for the ‘Syrian-Syrian dialog’ project, Nextep organization held a focused dialog session entitled ‘Gender equality gaps and human rights in the identity issue’ on December 22, 2021, in the organization’s HQ in Qamishli(A city in Northeastern Syria).
The session was attended by 15 people from different society segments including academics, civil activists, jurists and journalists, in order to discuss the session’s topics. These topics included the challenges that inhibit the existence of a shared identity among for Syrians, the role of the Syrian laws in perpetuating discrimination against women and how it affects the existence of a shared identity. Another topic revolved around the extent to which Syria abides by international human rights instruments and especially women’s rights, and the extent of compatibility between the international human rights instruments and the current Syrian laws and regulations.
The attendees’ opinions varied regarding the reasons that prevent the existence of a shared identity among Syrians. Some attributed the lack of shared identity to the succession of the ruling tyrannical regimes and its complete exclusion of community voices from the political scene, whilst others attributed it to the exploitation of religion for national purposes. A third opinion attributed the lack of a shared identity to the constitution, which is segregating Syrians on the basis of ethnicity and sects, and disregarding gender equality. Other participants attributed it to the lack of communal awareness among Syrians.
As for the role of Syrian law in the discrimination against women and how much it affects the absence of a shared Syrian identity, the attendees saw that the current Syrian law favors men over women in most of its clauses. Other participants gave this type of discrimination a historical dimension: being a transmitted social heritage among generations. Another part of the attendees saw that the reliance on Islamic law by the Syrian government, which includes arbitrary clauses against women, is among the reasons for the lack of a shared Syrian identity.
Other participants saw that ideological bigotry and depriving Syrians from their rights, strengthened nationalism over patriotism, and enhanced taking subsidiary identities instead of a shared Syrian identity.
With regard to the compatibility between international human rights instruments and the current Syrian constitution, the participants emphasized that the current Syrian constitution is based primarily on inequality, and therefore cannot be compatible with the international human rights instruments in the slightest.