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The Role of Women in the Syrian Civil War

Conflict situations occur all around the world. The Syrian civil war began in early 2011 when Syria’s government, led by president Bashar al-Assad used excessive force to try and crush pro-democracy unrest throughout the country. This use of excessive force on peaceful demonstrators later led to the situation expanding into a full-blown civil war. This unrest in Syria has had unsettling, long-term effects on not only that nation but also the Middle East as a whole and even the global order. This Civil War had a significant effect on Syrians, particularly women and girls (Carpenter 2013). The original demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad’s regime were heavily influenced by women, who were pushing for democracy, freedom, and human rights.

Throughout this period of the civil war, women continued to play a number of different roles, including being active members of the armed resistance and serving in support capacities like providing medical care, logistics, and communication. Throughout the war, feminist and women’s rights organizations continued to promote women’s rights and gender equality. The conflict has, however, also had devastating effects on women’s standing and rights, including greater vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking, as well as sexual violence and forced marriage (Aburas et., al 2018). Overall, the Syrian Civil War has had a significant and complex effect on the status and roles of women in Syrian culture. My paper will further expound on the roles played by women in this particular conflict and how they have influenced the various aspects of the conflict. Furthermore, my paper will also discuss broadly the theories that explain women’s inclusion in this war. The final part of this paper will include the conclusion section that will provide a summary and more insights into my entire work.

Women’s role in the Syrian Civil war

Many scholars believe that the start of the civil war diminishes women’s political participation. However, women in Syria have played diverse and influential roles in various aspects of the conflict on both sides. Women in Syria have participated in the institutions created by both armed groups and civilians (Gilbert 2021). In this section, I will explore the various roles and influences of women on various aspects of this conflict on both sides.

Women played a huge role as combatants.

Some Syrian women joined the armed resistance to the government in Syria, either as fighters or in support capacities like logistics, communications, and medicine. However, their presence in these armed oppositions varied depending on which rebel organizations they belonged to (Darden et., al 2019). Women who joined the resistance ran serious risks, such as sexual assault, incarceration, and even death. The opposition has also come under fire from some women’s organizations for marginalizing women and failing to provide them with equal chances. Women in the opposition performed crucial roles in the conflict despite the dangers. Women combatants took part in battles, treated the injured, assisted with logistics, and helped with communication. The opposition’s female members questioned conventional gender norms and argued that they had a right to take part in the fight for democracy and human rights (Darden et., al 2019). The difficulties encountered by women in the resistance, however, were significant as they frequently lacked the tools and training required to engage fully in the conflict.

Syrian women have also been involved in Mediation talks with the government.

According to Szekely (2020), Syrian women have also led mediation efforts with government forces to address security issues and service provision in areas formerly under opposition control. Through a variety of channels, including civil society groups and international organizations, women were engaged in mediation efforts with the Syrian government. Women’s organizations have been instrumental in promoting democracy, peace, and harmony in Syria, including by engaging in talks and discussions with government officials. Women in Syria have formed Women’s organizations and civil society organizations that have participated in diplomatic efforts with the Syrian government. These groups have worked to include women in the peace process and have promoted a peaceful and inclusive conclusion to the conflict. Women affected by the conflict have also received assistance and resources from some women’s groups, including access to healthcare and education.

According to Muto (2022), these mediation efforts have often been limited. Women have encountered many obstacles that have prevented them from actively participating in official peace processes, such as discrimination, exclusion, and a lack of resources and assistance. However, in recognition of the crucial part that women can play in fostering long-lasting peace and reconciliation in Syria, women’s groups and civil society organizations continue to push for the effective inclusion of women in peace talks and negotiations.

 Syrian women have also joined Civil societies and helped in delivering humanitarian aid.

It is evident that Humanitarian aid and civil society both play significant roles in advancing social equity, human rights, and sustainable development on a global scale. Humanitarian work is a particular subset of civil society that focuses on providing aid and support to people affected by crises like conflict, disaster, and displacement. Civil society refers to the wide range of non-governmental organizations, community groups, and citizen initiatives that work toward these goals. Szekely (2020) identifies women as an important group in society that play an important role in both civil society and humanitarian work. Women’s organizations and movements are often at the forefront of social justice and human rights initiatives, and they work to promote women’s rights and gender equality. Women are also disproportionately affected by crises such as conflict and displacement, and they often face unique challenges and vulnerabilities in these situations. As a result, women’s organizations and humanitarian agencies often prioritize the needs of women and girls in their work.

Women as activists and advocates for human rights.

Another important role women in Syria played during the civil war was that of being activists and advocates for human rights. Women’s groups and initiatives have been vocal in their calls for an end to the violence and support of a diplomatic solution to the problem. Women’s organizations were crucial in organizing protests and pushing for political reform in the early years of the conflict. Along with males, women took part in protests, and they were frequently leading initiatives to overthrow the government and call for more political freedoms and human rights.

Moore and Talarico (2015) also suggest that women have also contributed to efforts to compile information on torture, sexual assault, and arbitrary detention that have occurred during the war. Women’s groups have worked to increase awareness of these problems and put weight on national and international authorities to take appropriate action. These efforts have been critical in pushing for equality, especially for women, and promoting peace in the country.

Women in Syria have also played a huge role in the government of the day.

In recent decades, women in Syria have been excluded from government offices since Islam could not allow it. However, the situation in recent years has changed. According to Sparre (2008), the Syrian government has begun employing women, mainly as security personnel, nurses, and social workers. Women in the areas under government control encountered numerous difficulties, such as bombings, a lack of necessities, and displacement. Additionally, some women experienced sexual assault and abuse at the hands of the authorities.

Women’s organizations that backed the government worked to offer assistance and support to women in impacted areas, including access to education and medical care. Despite these women’s involvement in the affairs of the government, they have been criticized for their role in the conflict. Some pro-government women’s organizations were charged with participating in violations of human rights carried out by government agents. These organizations were charged with providing cover for the use of force by the government against its own people, including women.

Effectiveness; Theories and concepts

The various roles and levels of influence that women had in the Syrian war, as well as their success in accomplishing their objectives, can be explained by a number of theories and concepts, which include;

Structural Functionalism

This theory has provided one of the most important perspectives of sociological research in the twentieth century (Griffiths et., al 2017). According to structural functionalism, social organizations and structures play a role in the smooth operation and stability of society as a whole. By examining how women’s actions and contributions add to the stability and functioning of society, structural functionalism can be used to explain how women participate in the Syrian conflict and how successful they are in different aspects of the conflict.

Structural functionalism argues that society is composed of a number of interdependent institutions that cooperate in upholding social order and stability, including the family, the business, and the government. Every institution serves a distinct purpose and adds to the general efficiency and stability of society (Griffiths et., al 2017). The roles and impact of women in the Syrian conflict can be examined in terms of how they contribute to the efficiency and stability of society, especially in relation to the institutions of the family and the community. In spite of the war, women in Syria have been instrumental in preserving the stability of their families and communities. Due to the loss of male family members, many women have assumed new roles and responsibilities, such as becoming the main breadwinners or caretakers for their families. This has made it possible for families and communities to carry on despite the difficulties brought on by the war. In addition, women’s involvement in humanitarian organizations and civic society has helped provide essential aid and services to those affected by the conflict, enhancing societal stability in general.

Conflict theory

According to conflict theory, society is a struggle for dominance among social groups (like women versus men) that compete for scarce resources (Griffiths et., al 2017). In addition, the theory contends that power disparities and resource competition characterize social organizations and structures and that these elements influence social dynamics and relationships. Women’s roles and influence in the Syrian conflict can be examined in terms of their access to resources and power, as well as the ways that rivalry and power dynamics have impacted their chances for involvement and influence.

Women in Syria have gone through a number of challenges as a result of their involvement in this conflict. These challenges include; discrimination, gender-based violence, and marginalization. These challenges have limited their opportunities for both political and social participation and have contributed to the perpetuation of patriarchal power structures that have further marginalized women.

By highlighting the ways in which power and inequality have influenced women’s opportunities for involvement and influence, conflict theory can generally help explain the role of women and their effectiveness in the Syrian war. In order to advance greater gender equality and inclusivity, it also emphasizes the need for increased focus on the ways that power dynamics and rivalry influence social relationships, as well as the potential for conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts to address these underlying factors.

Feminist Theory.

Feminist theory is a type of conflict theory that examines inequalities in gender-related issues (Griffiths et., al 2017). It uses the conflict approach to examine the maintenance of gender roles and inequalities. Feminist theory can assist in explaining the roles and impact of women in the Syrian conflict by highlighting the ways that gender has shaped their experiences and opportunities for participation. It is evident that women in Syria often face a lot of challenges, such as gender-based violence and marginalization. Despite these obstacles, Syrian women have been essential in promoting both their own and their societies’ rights. The role of women’s activism and agency in upending patriarchal power structures and advancing greater gender equity is emphasized by feminist theory.

In this civil war, women’s involvement in civil society groups and humanitarian efforts has been crucial because they have been able to offer essential support and services to those impacted by the conflict. Their advocacy work has also contributed to bringing attention to the value of female equality in peacemaking and conflict resolution.


In conclusion, this paper has examined the various roles of women and their influence in the Syrian Civil war. My paper also describes the various roles and influences women had on various aspects of this conflict on both sides, namely, the government’s side and the side of the protestors. The crucial significance of women’s involvement in efforts to resolve conflicts and create peace is one of the main insights offered by this paper. Even though they significantly contribute to the promotion of stability, inclusivity, and fairness, women’s opinions and perspectives are frequently marginalized in these processes. This essay emphasizes the value of greater gender equity in efforts to resolve conflicts and create peace by highlighting the roles and influence of women in the Syrian conflict.

The significance of intersectionality in understanding the experiences and opportunities for the involvement of women in conflict situations is another significant insight offered by this paper. A one-size-fits-all strategy for promoting gender equality may not be successful because women from various social and cultural backgrounds may face different difficulties and opportunities for involvement. This paper emphasizes the requirement for more inclusive and nuanced approaches to promoting gender equality in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts by taking into account the varied factors that shape women’s experiences of conflict, including their social and cultural identities.

Overall, this essay offers a thorough and perceptive study of the contributions and impact of women in the Syrian conflict. In order to provide a nuanced understanding of the factors that have shaped women’s involvement and influence, it draws on a variety of theoretical views. It also emphasizes the crucial importance of greater gender equality in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts.


Carpenter, T. G. (2013). Tangled web: The Syrian civil war and its implications. Mediterranean Quarterly24(1), 1-11.

Aburas, R., Najeeb, A., Baageel, L., & Mackey, T. K. (2018). The Syrian conflict: a case study of the challenges and acute need for humanitarian medical operations for women and children internally displaced persons. BMC medicine16(1), 1-6.

Gilbert, V. (2021). Sister Citizens: Women in Syrian Rebel Governance. Politics & Gender17(4), 552-579.

Darden, J. T., Henshaw, A., & Szekely, O. (2019). Insurgent women: Female combatants in civil wars. Georgetown University Press.

Szekely, O. (2020). Fighting about women: ideologies of gender in the Syrian civil war. Journal of Global Security Studies5(3), 408-426.

Muto, A. (2022). Exploring Mediation Efforts Amid Systemic and Domestic Constraints: The Case of the Syrian Conflict. In Adaptive Mediation and Conflict Resolution: Peacemaking in Colombia, Mozambique, the Philippines, and Syria (pp. 137-163). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Moore, C., & Talarico, T. (2015). Inclusion to exclusion: Women in Syria. Emory Int’l L. Rev.30, 213.

Sparre, S. L. (2008). Educated women in Syria: Servants of the state or nurturers of the family. Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies17(1), 3-20.

Griffiths, H. K.-R. (2017). Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, Texas: Opens tax


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