Women Shut Out of Syrian Peace Talks

On January 22, 2014, UN-backed peace talks began in Geneva, Switzerland between the government of Syria and the Western-backed opposition in hopes of bringing an end to the three-year civil war. The two sides agreed to the talks pushed for by Russia, which supports the regime, and the United States, which supports the opposition. The two world powers realized that the only chance for ending the war was through a political solution.

It was in 2012 that the United States and Russia, along with other major powers, helped create the Geneva Communique, which outlines agreed upon objectives and tactics to a peaceful political transition. The six-point plan focuses on four specific goals: the desired conditions for future life in Syria; clear steps on the transition; implementing safety, stability and calm; and rapidly achieving a credible political agreement.

The people sitting at the negotiating table include representatives from the UN, the Arab League, the Syrian government, and a delegation from the Syrian Opposition Coalition. At one point, Iran was invited to attend, but was quickly disinvited before the talks began. In all, delegations from 30 countries are attending the talks dubbed Geneva II.

The common characteristic of all delegations is the absence of women.

The war has killed more than 130,000 people and displaced millions more. The majority of these are women and children. When the protests started in March 2011, women marched alongside men against the Assad regime. As the war began and the conflict progressed, they have suffered the brunt of  the violence, exasperated by the rise of those wishing for a more conservative interpretation of Islam.

Shortly before the peace talks began, a coalition of Syrian women’s groups met in Geneva to draft the demands Syrian women feel must be met in any agreement reached. The list included the request that women make up at least 30 percent of all negotiating teams in Geneva. Four women were elected from the group to meet with lead UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

Even before Geneva II, Syrian women have been working towards a peaceful solution, with a focus on the reality of women’s lives as the country moves forward. As early as 2011, these groups were working on principles of a new constitution. In October 2012, forty Syrian women gathered in Cairo to create priorities and a framework for a peaceful solution. In January of this year, more than 60 women from The Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace met in Damascus to develop a charter for peace to present at the Geneva II convention.

In spite of the Geneva Communique’s insistence on inclusivity for the transition, and the specific requirement that “women must be fully represented in all aspects of the transition,” women have been denied a place at the negotiating table. Syrian women have been present in Geneva since before talks began, but thus far diplomats have been unwilling to include them — in direct violation of the Communique. Initial reports indicate talks are going slowly. Indeed, parties on both sides have come to the table seemingly intractable on certain points and have said from the outset they do not promise to adhere to any points of agreement that may result.

However, if none of the delegations include representatives from 50 percent of the population, how much real progress can be achieved?

Syrian women remain at the talks, even if they are outside the closed doors. They are committed to the future of their country and continue to fight to have their voices heard. When asked what happens if the Geneva II talks fail, one of the four representatives that met with the U.N. mediator said women’s groups would push for 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,” said Rafif Jouejati. “If Geneva 2 doesn’t work, we will push the men who are making war to make peace.”

Photo: Istanbul, Turkey - December 2, 2011 : Syrians living in Istanbul and Civil Society Organizations protest the regime of Bashar Essad in front of Syrian Consulate building on December 2, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo via Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Radoslava Todorova
Radoslava T4 years ago

Strong women, I wish them luck in fighting for peace for their country and a better future!

Anna Undebeck
Anna U4 years ago

Thanks for the info!

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago


They claim to be fighting al-Qaeda, but al-Qaeda is stronger and more widespread now than ever. America’s ally Saudi Arabia is funding al-Qaeda in Syria and elsewhere, while fellow-American-ally Bahrain is funding other extremist groups there; all the while continuing to receive military support from America.

Join the dots folks …… read, research and learn ….. then join the dots. Do you really want a hundred years of this? Is this the world you want to live in, the world you want your children and grandchildren to grow up in? If you like to read stories in terms of “goodies” and “baddies”, then in this tale there is only 1 baddie (well 2 actually when you include their ally and co-conspirator Israel); and it isn’t Islam.

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago


So, there you have it. If you’ve read the links, or done your own research into the subjects discussed, you will see that this is not about “making America safe”, and they care not one jot about safety anywhere else in the world other than for Israel. It is all about power and empire. They use sanctions to weaken, then fabricate an excuse to invade, or they’ll get proxies to fight for them, meddling to set one group against another. They knew Iraq didn’t have WMD, that it had all been destroyed during earlier inspections in the early ‘90s, and any meagre traces that were left were so degraded as to be useless and without any means of delivery (don’t forget their spy satellites – “we can spot a coke can in a trash bin”). They know Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons and was not trying to build any. They know that Syria was not a threat to anyone, not even Israel. They know that Ghadaffi was not a threat to anyone – at least not militarily; but check out the African Gold Dinar, a currency based on gold which he was in the process of introducing along with other African leaders for payment of goods within the continent, including for Libya’s oil, which America saw as a threat to the power of the petro-dollar, so he had to go. The whole of the Middle East in turmoil and bloodshed, now spreading to Africa. All pre-planned 20 years ago, and all going exactly to plan.

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago


Note the date, 20 September 2001 – 9 days after 9/11 - the same day that Gen Wesley Clarke was told at the Pentagon that America was going to war with Iraq - see my earlier post.

In June 2004, Professor Hamoud Salhi presented an address to the Center for Contemporary Conflict, of the (U.S.) Naval Postgraduate School in which he reminded his audience of the “U.S. Congress 2004 “Syria Accountability Act” which considerably financially weakened Syria’s fragile economy, with further aims clearly paving the way to regime change”. [Echoes of Iraq 1992-2003 – my note.] That achieved: “…the United States will have completed its final stage of encircling Iran. This would further tip the region’s balance of power in favour of Israel and ultimately open new doors for the U.S.’s active involvement in toppling the Iranian regime.”

Concluding his address, the Professor pointed out that: “Syria’s economic capabilities do not support the argument that Syria could become a threatening force in the region … Further, it’s technological development falls to near nil as a threat to the United States. A: “lack of interest in the sciences is reflected in patents registered in the United States, a meager ten, as against 16,328 for Korea and 7,652 for Israel (1980-2000.) Syria has a long way to go before it could reach any kind of technological development to be a threat to the United States.”

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago

To Ruth, and anyone else still reading this. As a follow-on to my previous post, I've just come across the following article at Global Research which I urge you to read – you’ll recognise quite a lot if you’ve been half-awake over the last couple of decades;


Dated 20 Sept. 2012, it confirms the neo-con attitudes to the Middle East, the sort of arguments they use to justify what they want to do, the deviousness, lying, and manipulation by the neo-cons with regard to events and their role in them, their total disregard for international law and contempt for the suffering of the people in the countries concerned (e.g. with regard to a possible attack on Syria, quote; "we’re sitting there talking about ‘we really hope there won’t be sectarian violence later on’, and, gee, this is kind of unfortunate.”), all to advance the power and hegemony of the US and Israel in the region - not that it was under any threat in the first place, quite the reverse in fact.

Of particular importance in this article, please note;

"On 20th September 2001PNAC [Project for the New American Century] sent a letter to Bush: “ … recommending the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even if no direct link to the 9/11 attack were found.”

Note the date, 20 September 2001 – 9 days after 9/11 - the same day

Ursula Margrit Joos
Ursula Margrit J4 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago

Will R. expressed my opinion very well, and TV news is selective, to say the least. How many times have you heard how horrid another country is for doing such-and-such and we do the very same thing, many times on on a much larger scale! Too many people think if it's on TV, radio or newspaper it's the truth. The reverse is too often the case.

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago


or google it yourself, there’s plenty of sources to look at it. And while reading that longer version, just think about what warfare was like back in the ‘90s, and what it is like now with all the remote stuff like drones, the computer viruses like Stuxnet used against Iran, etc., and you will see that some of the futuristic weapons they talk about in the document are already in use.

Read some of this stuff, Ruth, and then tell me who you think the bad guys are in all this.

By the way, take a look at the people involved with Project for the New American Century (PNAC). You will see that many of them are Jewish, many even having dual Israeli-American nationality, some even swearing allegiance to Israel above all else. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted in the past of being able to get America to fight Israel’s wars for them and many of the cyberspace and new weapons are developed with joint Israeli/American co-operation. Get’s you thinking, doesn’t it?