Politics & Economics

Northern Syria Sisters Buck Social Norms, Owning Their Own Businesses


In northern Syria, Bahar and her two sisters are bucking social norms, supporting their own livelihoods and owning their own business in the form of a restaurant, Miraan.

Amidst the devastation of conflict across the whole of Syria and the political developments related to the wider region, it can be easy to miss the achievements of ordinary people in improving the lives of themselves and those around them. Such individuals often have to overcome not only economic challenges but social adversity as well, making achievements all the more rewarding. This is the case of Bahar and her two sisters from Northern Syria who have taken control of their own economic destiny by owning and operating their own businesses.

The restaurant, Miraan, stands out from the other businesses in the area which are often in the real estate sector and are owned and operated by men. Indeed, as is the case in much of Syria, social norms here have often discouraged women from taking an active role in the economy, relegating women to a secondary role.

For Bahar, however, this was not an acceptable option. Holding a university degree and having spend better part of more than a decade teaching, she felt she had the right skills and leadership abilities to take on the challenges. And once she spotted the opportunity, she pooled her means with her two sisters and opened her restaurant without the need to rely on others while still being able to take care of her father.

Bahar hopes that her achievement will encourage other women in northern Syria to follow in her footsteps, seeking economic independence. She firmly believes that women are capable of contributing to society and participating in the economy as much as men.

She is not alone in her beliefs. Rallied by the brutality of ISIS militants and the sheer impact of the war on women, many Syrian activists have been working hard to ensure that the societal norms that have enabled the victimization of women are eliminated. In northern Syria, in particular, women have taken on an increasingly active role in economy and politics. Meanwhile, unique locations such as the women-only village of Jinwar have made international headlines, signalling the evolving role of women in the Syrian society.