Women in Syria

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Women in Syria
University student, Damascus, Syria.jpg
A female university student in Damascus, Syria in 2010
Gender Inequality Index[1]
Value 0.556 (2013)
Rank 125th out of 152
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 70 (2010)
Women in parliament 12.0% (2013)
Females over 25 with secondary education 29.0% (2012)
Women in labour force 13.4% (2012)
Global Gender Gap Index[2]
Value 0.5661 (2013)
Rank 133rd out of 136

Women in Syria are women who live in or are from Syria. Syria is located in Asia, near Iraq and Turkey. This is considered the Middle East. It is also close to Saudi Arabia.


The current population in Syria is 23,072,482. The male and female population is almost split in half. Currently women occupy 49.4% of the population.[3] Between 2010 and 2015, the average life expectancy at birth for women in Syria is 77.7 years, compared with 74.5 years for men.[4]


In the 20th century a movement for women's rights developed in Syria, made up largely of upper-class, educated women.[5]

In 1928 Lebanese-Syrian feminist Nazira Zain al-Din, one of the first people to critically reinterpret the Koran from a feminist perspective, published a book condemning the practice of veiling or hijab, arguing that Islam requires women to be treated equally with men.[6]

In 1963 the Ba'th Party took power in Syria, and pledged full equality between women and men as well as full workforce participation for women.[7]

In 1967 Syrian women formed a quasi-governmental organization called the General Union of Syrian Women (GUSW), a coalition of women's welfare societies, educational associations, and voluntary councils intended to achieve equal opportunity for women in Syria.[7]

In 1989 the Syrian government passed a law requiring factories and public institutions to provide on-site childcare.[7]


In 1949, women in Syria were first allowed to vote and received universal suffrage in 1953.[8] In the 1950s, Thuraya Al-Hafez ran for Parliament, but was not elected. By 1971, women held four out of the 173 seats.[9]

The nation of Syria considers itself a republic. Therefore, its government consists of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch of government. The current president of Syria is a male by the name of Bashar al-Assad. There are also two vice presidents (including female vice president Najah al-Attar since 2006), a prime minister and a cabinet. As of 2012, in the national parliament men held 88% of the seats while women held 12%.[4]


The early schooling in Syria starts at six years old and ends at the age of eighteen. In Syrian universities, women and men attend the same classes. Between 1970 and the late 1990s, the female population in schools dramatically increased. This increase included the early school years, along with the upper level schools such as universities. Although the amount of women has increased, there are still ninety five women to every one hundred men. Although many women start going to school, the dropout rate for women is much higher than for men. The literacy rate for women is 74.2 percent and 91 percent for men.[10]

Role in economy[edit]

Syria is among the leaders of the other middle-eastern countries. With that being said, it is still a developing country and is a middle-income country. The people who live in Syria do not make much money at all. Nearly 70 perent of the people who live in Syria make less than one hundred dollars a month. On the other hand, more than half a million homes reported having no income whatsoever. In 2011 13.1% of Syrian women participated in the labour force, compared with 71.6% of Syrian men.[4]

Women in the military[edit]

Women are not conscripted in the military, but may serve voluntarily. The female militias of Syria are trained to fight for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. A video was found dating back to the 1980s with female soldiers showing their pride and protectiveness toward Assad's father.[11]

Legal rights[edit]

Syria Comment described that Syrian women have been able to acquire several rights that have not been granted to their counterparts in other Arab nations. Such rights include the custody of children aged 15 years old or younger with a court order.

In 1949, women in Syria were first allowed to vote and received universal suffrage in 1953.[7] In the 1950s, Thuraya Al-Hafez ran for Parliament, but was not elected. By 1971, women held four out of the 173 seats.[8]

Syrian women are legally allowed to participate in everyday life, although they are not guaranteed a spot in being part of political, social, cultual and econimic categories. The legal marriage for females in Syria is seventeen years old and eighteen for males. Early marriage is not out of the ordinary in their culture. Even though the legal age is seventeen, the courts can allow for girls as young as thirteen to be married. Women are technically allowed to have a say in what the agreements are between them and the groom. Although, since this contract has to be signed by the groom and the male guardian of the bride, her wishes are rarely met. On the other hand of marriage, the divorce laws are unique in Syria. Women are in fact allowed to file for divorce except it is a long drawn out process and she must get consent from her husband. There are some circumstances in which the woman can apply for a divorce through the judicial system. In order to do this, she must prove that her husband has abused her or neglected his other duties as a husband. If a man wants to divorce a woman, all he has to do is go to court and orally demand a divorce three times, then the court will order him a divorce.[12]


In 1919, Naziq al-Abid founded Noor al-Fayha (Light of Damascus), the city's first women's organization, alongside an affiliated publication of the same name.She was made an honorary general of the Syrian Army after fighting in the Battle of Maysaloun, and in 1922 she founded the Syrian Red Crescent.[13]


In 2010 0.7% of female Syrians were intentionally murdered, compared with 4.5% of male Syrians. Syria is currently under a "rape crisis". Prior to the civil war in Syria, rape was relatively rare.[4][14]

Notable women[edit]




  1. ^ "Table 4: Gender Inequality Index". United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  3. ^ "Syria Population". Syria Population. 7 Apr 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Syrian Arab Republic". United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Smith, edited by Bonnie G. (2005). Women's history in global perspective. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780252029905. 
  6. ^ Keddie, Nikki R. (2007). Women in the Middle East: past and present. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 96. ISBN 9780691128634. 
  7. ^ a b c Tohidi, ed. by Herbert L. Bodman, Nayereh (1998). Women in muslim societies: diversity within unity. Boulder (Colo.): L. Rienner. p. 103. ISBN 9781555875787. 
  8. ^ Pamela, Paxton (2007). Women, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press. pp. 48–49. 
  9. ^ Moubayed, Sami. "A History of Syrian Women". The Washington Post. 
  10. ^ "Syria - Educational System—overview". education.stateuniversity.com. Retrieved 2015-04-21. 
  11. ^ Sly, Liz; Ramadan, Ahmed (2013-01-25). "The all-female militias of Syria". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-04-21. 
  12. ^ "Legal rights - Syria | Kvinfo.dk". kvinfo.org. Retrieved 2015-04-21. 
  13. ^ "Syrian Women Making Change". PBS. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Number of rape incidents per 100,000 citizens by country, Nation Master 2008

External links[edit]