'Our main goal is to create an equal, just and democratic society based on women's freedom'

Mekiye Hiso, a member of the Syrian Women's Assembly, said that they have once again realised the importance of women's self-defence with the revolution in North and East Syria, adding that they will focus more on organisation in Syrian cities.


The Syrian Women's Assembly, which was declared at its founding congress held on 8 September 2017 in Manbij with the participation of 200 women from across Syria, has been carrying out activities to organise Syrian women for 7 years without interruption. 250 Syrian women delegates attended the 2nd congress of the Syrian Women's Assembly in Aleppo's Şêxmeqsûd (Sheikh Maqsoud) neighbourhood on 20 May.

The congress drew attention to issues such as building a democratic and ecological society based on women's freedom, resolving the crisis in Syria through democratic dialogue and the implementation of a decentralised democratic system, ensuring freedom, democracy and justice for all ethnic, cultural and social identities in Syria, organising and educating women and developing a free and egalitarian understanding of life, supporting the role of women in the creation of Syria's new constitution and in dialogue processes, guaranteeing women's rights in all areas, implementing international law and especially the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women (CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women).

The road map of the Assembly

The congress set out important plans such as being in dialogue with all women, especially with the women living in the occupied territories, pressuring the relevant parties to take their place in the Syrian constitutional commission, expanding communication and cooperation with regional and international women's movements, implementing the articles on women, security and peace (2245 and 1325), accelerating work on the re-education of women and children living in camps, expanding the assembly's activities abroad, and documenting violations against women, especially in the occupied territories.

Mekiye Hiso, a member of the Syrian Women's Assembly, spoke to ANF about the purpose of the assembly and its organisation.

Noting that the Syrian Women's Assembly was established in order to enable Syrian women to struggle together and strengthen their struggle, Mekiye Hiso said: “Women and children suffer the most in the environment of the 3rd World War. Women's rights have been trampled underfoot. They have been subjected to all forms of torture, from harassment and rape to displacement. Women's identity has been destroyed. The Syrian Women's Assembly was established to bring women in Syria together, to reach Syrian women and to establish dialogue. As Syrian women, our priority is to guarantee women's freedom. We struggle for women to have access to their identities, for their identities to be recognised and protected. The sufferings of all women from Rojava to Syria and Eastern Kurdistan (Iran) are the same. Therefore, we have taken it as a basis to act with the idea that strength is born from unity.”

Awareness of organisation

Mekiye Hiso stated that their main goal is to create a society where women can be free and added: “Our main goal is to create an equal, just and democratic society based on women's freedom. When we come together with Syrian women living outside North and East Syria, they admire the organisation of women in North and East Syria. They realise that organised women will create a new society. They are convinced that women without self-defence and organisation will be doomed to extinction.”

‘We are struggling to be the voice of women’

Mekiye Hiso stated that they are struggling to have a say in the Syrian Constitution and said: “We are struggling to be the voice of women. There are many sessions where the Syrian crisis is discussed, but Syrian women are not included in these sessions. While the fate of society is being discussed, women are not included in these discussions. One of the reasons why Astana and Geneva have not yielded results is that Syrian women are not included in these sessions. Sessions without a component representing Syrian women will fuel the crisis and will not lead to a solution. Therefore, we continue our activities for Syrian women to have a say in the constitution.”

‘A duty to deal with the women who were forced to join ISIS’

Mekiye Hiso remarked that the Syrian Women's Assembly, whose headquarters is in Raqqa, has offices in Manbij, Aleppo, Hesekê (Hol Camp) and Qamishlo, and continued: “In Hol Camp, there are women from every city in Syria. We deal directly with Syrian migrant women. We also know that it is our duty to deal with the women who were forced to join ISIS. We are strengthening our relations with these women in order to free them from the violent and dominant mentality of ISIS. We provide them with moral support so that they can integrate into society in a healthy way. We set up a tent of our assembly in Hol Camp. ISIS members burnt our tent and threatened us, but we set up our tent again and provided support to Syrian women from education to necessities. We do not have offices in Syrian cities other than North and East Syria, but we are working on organising Syrian women through the women who are members of our assembly.’

‘The level of development in self-defence gives hope’

Mekiye Hiso also drew attention to their dialogues with Syrian women, saying: ‘For Syrian women living outside North and East Syria, women's decision-making rights are both interesting and exciting. The level of development in self-defence gives hope to women whose words and sentences have been handcuffed for centuries. Our presence on the ground, our determination not to yield, our defense of women and a life based on democratic, ecological and women's freedom are the focal points.”

Stating that they struggle against the anti-democratic, centralised system, Mekiye Hiso said: “Kurdish, Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, Turkmen and Circassian women have proved that nations can live together. In order to strengthen this life, a better organisation is needed. The complementarity of the peoples living in Syria will be realised under the leadership of women. Women's freedom is a must for the construction of a democratic, equal and just world.”

‘We will increase our struggle with the determination to reach every Syrian woman’

Mentioning their plans and projects, Mekiye Hiso concluded her speech as follows: “We have set the goal of opening Syrian Women's Assembly offices in Syrian cities one after another. We will strengthen our organisation by reaching out to Syrian women who have migrated abroad. We will be able to reach women living in Idlib, Azaz, Bab, Afrin, Jarablus, Serêkaniye and Girê Sipî, which are under the occupation of the Turkish state, and we will be the voice of women who are subjected to torture. We will document these inhumane practices and we will conduct research to deliver them to the relevant institutions and organisations.  Since 2017, we have reached hundreds of thousands of Syrian women, we have established dialogue, but we will increase our struggle with the determination to reach even one Syrian woman we could not reach.’