The Women of the Syrian Spring

Posted: 01/23/2012 by editormary in Grassroots Activism, Human Rights, Middle East Issues, People's Movements / Struggles, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, Syria

WRITTEN BY SHADY HAMADI, translated by Mary Rizzo

Fadwa Soliman

Since the start of the Syrian revolution, approximately eleven months ago, women have played a role that is equal to that of men. Young Syrian women have been leading the protest, they are at the head of human rights organisations and they are leading protagonists in the political opposition. But who are these women?

Fadwa Soliman was one of Syria’s most famous actresses. When the revolution began, she decided to actively participate. Her parents, upon discovering their daughter’s choice, disowned her, because they were dedicated supporters of the president Assad as well as belonging to the same religious group as the Assad family, the Alawite sect. Being a public figure whose face was known to all, Fadwa, wanted by the police, decided to cut her long black hair so as to render herself less recognisable. Her activity, in this moment, is concentrated especially in leading protests and sending video messages by means of You Tube. She has been living in hiding for months, and every day she is forced to change where she is living so as to avoid capture.

Razan Zaithouni, born in 1977, she manages a network of local coordination committees for human rights in Syria. She is wanted because she is accused by the Syrian regime of being a foreign spy. Razan Zaithouni was awarded the Sakharov Prize in October and also in 2011 won the Anna Politkovskaya Award. Her husband is currently detained in the Syrian prisons.

Bassma Kodmani, spokesperson of the Syrian National Council – the principle opposition group to the regime – in 1968 left Syria with his parents who abandoned their country due to political problems, transferring themselves to Paris. Prior to the start of the revolution, she had published various books in France and has managed, for the Ford Foundation, the programme of government and cooperation in the Middle East. She is the most influential Syrian woman on a political level at this moment, and she is the second in command of the Syrian National Council.

Suhair Atassi, human rights activits, member of the Atassi family, which has a lengthy political history behind it, manages the Jamal Atassi Forum. In this moment the form is only online because it was outlawed by the government. She was arrested at the start of the protests and released several months later. Her identity card has been taken by the security forces so as to prevent her from escaping. She lives under the constant threat of being arrested again.

The list of the women who are changing Syria is long. Christian, Muslim, Alawite women, as well as women from all the other religions are participating, collaborating actively in this spring that is late in blooming. I believe that the saying “behind every great man there is a great woman” isn’t sufficient for the Syrian situation, because men and women are walking side by side, hand in hand.



  1. Thank You, Dear Mary for Your excellent work : the Syrian Woman is the Syrian Man’s future !

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