Introduction: Why Saiedet Suria?
Outside the parameters imposed by the Assad regime for more than four decades, and outside the black hole organizations like “ISIS” and “Al Qaeda” are attempting to impose on Syria’s people today, there is a wider world in which women are gradually rising in their ranks. Women around the globe are independently demanding their equal rights and establishing themselves in the ruling class, as queens, prime misters and leaders. In Tunisia, female activists succeeded in forcing the parliament to sign Article 20, which recognizes that men and women are equal under the law, although the state is subjected to a conservative Islamic regime.
For more than 40 years, the Assad regime put women on the sidelines in regards to nation building. But in March 2011 that all changed. Masses of women took to the streets to participate in demonstrations and sit-ins against the dictator’s rule. After the revolution took full force, women’s role increased even further. They joined humanitarian efforts in helping the wounded and have documented civil and intellectual human rights abuses. Many women have paid a high price for their involvement, some with their freedom or even their lives. Yet, they are subjected to the same limitations imposed by the Assad regime. Likewise, the opposition is excluding women from taking on any meaningful leadership roles. As today, only 5% of Syrian National Coalition representatives are women.
Despite the significant role, value and sacrifices of women in the Syrian revolution, it has failed to acknowledge them as such. In addition, the recent rise of Islamic extremists has led to a limitation of women’s overall role in society and severely endangers their future.
Attempts to empower women do exist, however their ineffectiveness to date demonstrates the severe difficulties in exposing the reality of Syrian women and the obstacles they face.
About the magazine:
Saiedet Souria magazine is a 60 pages A4 monthly magazine, started on September 2013, and published the first issue on January 15th 2014.
It is today the only women’s magazine distributed widely inside Syria. The magazine is distributed in Daraa, Al-Ghota in Damascus countryside, Idleb governorate, Al-Hasaka province, Aleppo city and countryside, as well as in Turkish cities (Gaziantep, Killis and Istanbul).
The magazine doesn’t only target a female audience but also focuses on men, to raise their awareness about difficulties faced by women in Syria and introduce them to women’s rights.
Saiedet Souria strives to be the primary media platform on the bases of trust, respect, spread among people and the ability to be influential in Syrian women’s life
Mission: (Vision Statement): A monthly independent magazine, dedicated to women’s freedom issue and address Syrian women, as a part of women’s struggle around the world.
Honesty: The magazine is committed to transparency and clarity in its work, defending the truth and using it objectively and neutrally.
Sharing: Saiedet Souria magazine relies on the values of teamwork, being open to other’s experience and benefit from it.
Gender: To be a part of the international effort in defending human rights, especially women’s rights.
- Support Syrian women in both understanding and achieving their rights.
- Enable women to express themselves on Syrian political, social and economic platforms in order to gain legal and legislative representation, to participate in elections and foster democratic values.
- Suggest changes in laws through the production of research and legal studies to emancipate women and spread.
- Develop a culture of pluralism, acceptance of other groups and the ability to live together, which will contribute to establish civil peace and restore Syrian society national cohesion.
- Foster religious tolerance, value that prospered in Syria for centuries.
- Present Syrian women’s struggle as a part of the global fight of women for their emancipation worldwide, featuring significant achievements, linking activities and fostering solidarity.
Tasks and how to achieve goals
Saiedet Souria focuses on the pressing issues that women are facing today, as per their rights, social, economic, political as well as cultural issues.
- Women’s rights: The publication addresses women’s legal status under current Syrian laws, including, but not limited to, inheritance, divorce, marriage and children custody.
- Society: The publication discusses male guardianship over women, as well as overall questions about respect due to men. The issue also discusses civil engagement by featuring success stories of Syrian, Arab and international women, which aim to develop the readers’ confidence in launching their own business initiatives.
- Culture: The magazine includes articles and interviews with female artists (sculptors, plastic artists and actresses) who have received international recognition for the quality of their work. With their significant role in society, they have a voice to defend human and women’s rights and an audience to listen to their cause.
- Politics: The magazine features historical examples of women’s struggle worldwide, leading to their political liberation in their respective countries. Many women hold today significant leading and governmental positions as ministers or even heads of state. Such stories will give Syrian women the motivation to seek true political representation and confidence that they can achieve their goals. With roles in government, women can ensure that the legal rights of their constituents are upheld.
- National cohesion: The magazine has a united discourse towards all Syrian women, with no distinction of position, affiliation, and religion, national or political orientation. The magazine acknowledges that most of Syrian women are victims of tyranny as most of them are victims of Tyranny.
Mechanisms and Tools:
Print and online dissemination
Saiedet Souria magazine prints 3700 copies in Gaziantep city in Turkey, and distributes 1000 copies of them in Gaziantep city and refugee camps in Turkey, and sends 1500 copies to our office in Aleppo to be distributed in the liberated areas there, sends 500 copies to be distributed in Syrian refugee camps in nothern region of Syria, sends 500 copies to be distributed in Edlib countryside, and sends 200 copies to be distributed in Jabal Al-Turkman in Latakia countryside.
Also Saiedet Souria prints 500 copies in its office in Al-Hasaka, and 500 copies in its office in Daraa, using two Canon IX6850 printers, which are modified by adding external inkjets to them, in order to be able to print over 1000 copies. These 1000 copies are being distributed in Al-Hasaka province and Daraa countryside.
In addition, Saiedet Souria prints over 300 black and white copies in the magazine’s office in Al-Ghota in Damascus countryside and distributes them there.
The magazine is also published online through a website, and a Facebook page, that reached more than 70,000 “likes”.
In addition to the print and distribution of the copies, Saiedet Souria aims to spread its ideas and engage the Syrian civil society through a forum called “knowledge and freedom of expression”. This forum is organized in collaboration with two other magazines, which are “Shar” and “Daouda”. The conference features important political and cultural Syrian public figures (e.g. Professor Burhan Ghalioun, Professor Ziad Majed, novelist Ebtisam Trisy, journalist Hala Kodmani, Professor Radwan Ziadeh, Michel Kilo, Professor Sameer Ettah and many others). This forum makes an available physical place where women fully participate in the political and social discussion.
The magazine coordinates campaigns related to women and children in coordination with human rights organizations and regional and international associations. The first campaign was implemented by Saiedet Soura’s team between February 12th and March 12th 2015, while the next campaigns will be against recruiting minors and against violence upon women.
Brochures and booklets
The magazine plans to produce brochures to raise awareness and provide information and instructions on sensitive subjects (e.g. child care during illness, child trauma, difficult environmental and food-conditions, lack of hygiene etc.) Brochures and booklets will also be widely distributed during the campaigns.
Saiedet Souria magazine’s main supporter is Hivos organization, as it mainly support printing the magazine, as well as, EED organization support the magazine in producing the PDF and building the website, in addition to support the magazine gets from the Swiss government, in covering a part of inside offices’ work. Also Saiedet Souria is a member of Women on the Frontline project, which was cofounded by many organizations; in the forefront of them are Hivos, Oxfam, IWPR and PWC organizations.
The magazine plans to use its offices inside Syria to train young female activists, between 5 and 10 activists every month, as circumstances permit, about the basics of journalism, news editing, video report and radio piece production. These trained female activists will participate in campaigns organized by the magazine, such as the campaign against early marriage, which is financially supported by the Canadian ministry of external affairs.
Writers team (Freelancers)
Saiedet Souria depends on several female and male Arab and Syrian researchers, academics and journalists. in each issue, 70% of writers are female. Through these figures who are well-known on one hand, and respectful and trustworthy by Syrian society on the other hand, Saiedet Souria seeks to achieve goals and carry out tasks.
Editing Team of Saiedet Souria
This procedure is supported by two teams:
First: The main team outside Syria and includes:
- Yasmine Merei: editing manager: she is a Syrian activist from Homs. She participated in the revolution since its beginning and worked in media; writing for various publications and magazines like (Damascus bureau, Enab Baladi, Dawdaa’, Hinta and Soar). She headed the Syrian delegation to the Conference of activating the social role of women in Paris 2013, which was held at the invitation of the French ministry of women affairs, and participated in the preparatory conference for the Network of Syrian Women in Stockholm, in February 2013. She holds a diploma of Arabic language.
- professor Inaam Charaf: Public relation manager and the head of translation team: She holds a Ph.D. from France in information and communication systems. She worked as a professor at Damascus university in addition to heading Customer Serves Assistance department at British Council in Damascus, She also wrote several books in her specialty and various other aspects, in addition to participation in international conferences. She is also interested in translation from Arabic into French, as she translated numerous articles and scientific researches, as well as translating literary and economic books (e.g. Milan Kundera and Samir Amin). Professor Charaf faced harassment and threats, and then got discharged from teaching at the university, as a result of her political attitude after the start of the Syrian revolution, so she was forced to leave the country.
- Ola Al-Jari: She is graduated of Damascus University Media Faculty, and she is a member of project development team at Syrian Media Action Revolution Team (SMART), as well as the head of supervision team in SMART News Agency. She also is the editing manager of Dawdaa’ magazine. Since 2012 she has attended several gender-journalism training workshops organized by IWPR, Basma-Syria and the CCSDS.
Ola represented Syria at the (Global Editors Network), which was held in Paris in June 2013.
In addition to a number of journalists and translators.
Second: offices inside Syria:
It’s consisted of ten members, who cover five offices as follows:
Daraa office, Damascus office, Central Region office, Aleppo office, Al-Hasaka office.
Offices staff, who are consisted mostly of women, work in information, news reports, photography and make some interviews in addition to distribute the magazine inside Syria as circumstances permit.
- Mouhammad Mallak: the editor-in-chief: is a scriptwriter and playwright. He is a Souad Al-Sabah award-winner for the best theatrical text in (2000) for his Theatrical text (Al-Ababil). He founded “Markaz Scenario for film and television production and distribution”, which worked in writing scripts for numerous televisions e.g. (Syrian T.V, Saudi T.V and Qatari T.V), in addition to dubbing series, as well as writing for children (Writing short stories, comics, animation and puppets). He also founded a pioneer scenario workshop in Syria, consisted of more than 13 writers before the start of the revolution. After the start of the revolution he founded a number of media projects (e.g. Swaida Khabar media center, which covers the southern region of Syria and publishes in Arabic, English and French languages); moreover, he is the editor-in-chief of another successful magazine, it is Dawdaa magazine (24 pages), started publishing in April 2013.
Mallak works as the director of SMART news agency, and the head of media development team at ASML; he also has been the trainer of reporters in the Citizen Journalist project, for more than a year and a half. Mallak is wanted by Syrian regime, as his house and company headquarter in Damascus was raided by the military security forces, which pushed him to leave the country.
A final word:
We hope that what is our country is going through is nothing but a stumble; it will recover from or and a wound, we will learn to live from. We search, in the light of this confusion, with the help of honest and friends in the world, who support the cause of Syrian people liberation, for restoring moderation and reason, putting an end to chaos , putting an end to killing and desire of revenge, which will result more killing and bloodshed and more misery.