Women in the province of Deir ez-Zour are now able to work with freedom following the region's liberation from the tyranny of ISIS.
During the occupation of Deir ez-Zour by ISIS militants for around 4 years, heavy restrictions were placed on the lives of women both in the public and private spheres. Women who engaged in work, such as sewing, were prevented from continuing their traditional employment. Nevertheless, with the liberation of large swathes of Deir ez-Zour by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), women have regained certain freedoms, especially with regards to work and dress.
Umm Ahmed is one such woman who was subject to the severe restrictions imposed by ISIS, but is now relieved by the situation:
“The situation was very difficult. There was a lot of pressure for 4 years. After the liberation of Deir ez-Zour, we returned to dress as we like. During ISIS’s occupation, we were forced to wear black, and we were not allowed to wear beads and light colours.”
She would find ways to secretly continue her profession despite the watchful eye of the ISIS police:
“I used to sew a long time ago. During ISIS’s occupation, I used to sew secretly in my house because they were cruel [to us].”
Similar to Umm Ahmed, other women across Deir ez-Zour celebrated their freedom to adorn the attire of their choice and not have to hide their faces, as was necessitated by ISIS rule.
Women living under the administration of the Deir ez-Zour Civil Council have been coming to the fore in the public sphere. The Civil Council includes a Women’s Committee that focuses on women’s issues and their role in society. Initiatives to improve the status of women and tackle issues of misogyny have been prevalent all across northern Syria. Indeed, women played a vital role in expelling ISIS from northern Syria as part of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), a military unit under the general umbrella of the SDF.