The Women's General Conference was organised in Azzaz following a 6-month-long study exploring the expressed needs of women in northern Syria.
The city of Azzaz, like many cities in Syria, has gone through immeasurable turbulence over the last seven years, since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. Azzaz is located in northwestern Syria, roughly 20 miles (32 kilometres) north-northwest of Aleppo. The city is known for its numerous historical areas, as it is the site of the battle of Azzaz between the Crusader States and the Seljuk Turks on June 11, 1125. It is also notable for its proximity to a Syrian–Turkish border crossing, which enters Turkey at Oncupinar, south of the city of Kilis.
The Syrian Civil War has wrought untold damage on every aspect of life in the country. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions have been displaced and entire cities have been reduced to rubble. On top of all of this, the plight of women and children has worsened beyond measure. Hundreds of thousands of women have been widowed and have been left alone to fend for themselves and their families without any support.
Additionally, the emergence of ISIS and its cruel and degrading treatment of women, particularly those from minority communities, has brought to light the plight of women in Syria and in conflict zones in general. Under ISIS and other extremist groups such as Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham, women were oppressed and regularly abused. Under these group’s they had no rights, nor did they have any outlet to empower themselves or progress.
However, in the city of Azzaz, women have bravely come together to organise a conference aimed at discussing ways of empowering and supporting women in Syria.The organisers of the conference aim to travel to 12 different communities within the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo to assess the needs of women in the community. From the conference, activists launched the “the Unit for the Empowerment and Support of Women”.
This is one of the many examples of the resilience shown by women in empowering themselves and making a positive impact on their community, despite the challenges they face. This conference is a testament to the positive and essential role that women can and do play in society.