Freed from ISIS militants, women across Raqqa are leading the charge in rebuilding their city and improving their conditions.
Just as the efforts to rebuild Raqqa City are taking shape in the wake of ISIS’ defeat in the city, so are the efforts to create a society that does not repeat the tyranny of the militants that ruled over the city for the past three years. After all, it wasn’t just the buildings and streets of Raqqa that were torn asunder during the ISIS rule, it was the social fabric of the city as well.
The women of Raqqa stand in the forefront of these efforts to rebuild the city. After all, they represent one of the demographics that were worst off under ISIS rule, having been subject to the full extent of the groups oppressive laws and policy of gendered violence. Now free from ISIS, they seek to not only regain their status before the arrival of the militants, but rise above their pre-war status. Their goal is to have equal say and role in the rebuilding of Raqqa and to ensure that issues concerning women specifically can be represented fairly.
Much of the women’s representation in Raqqa City is handled through the Raqqa Women’s Committee, which is part of the city’s civilian authority. So far, their work has focused on opening a clinic in the Tishreen District specifically catering to women. The Committee was also responsible for the opening of an academy that seeks to train women in a variety of academic and political fields in order for them to become more effective technocrats. 47 women are currently training in the academy and it is expected that many of them will take co-positions alongside their male counterparts in the relevant fields.
The efforts of these women in Raqqa is in line with an overall trend that has been witnessed over the course of the country’s conflict. Although pre-war Syria, by all accounts, conferred equal rights to men and women, traditional attitudes to gender roles were a fact of life in many sectors. Many of these norms have since been shattered. Today, Syrian women are becoming increasingly visible in not only the public sphere, but the political and military sphere as well.