Empowering Women in North and East Syria

From commanders on the front lines in the war against ISIS to community leaders building a resilient and democratic society, women in North and East Syria are free and empowered thanks to the policies and institutions of the Autonomous Administration.

Political Representation

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is the only political authority in Syria to mandate a minimum of 40% women’s representation in all of its political institutions— and the only one to have parallel women’s communes, councils, and assemblies that work alongside mixed-gender institutions to ensure that women’s concerns are heard. All institutions, including the Syrian Democratic Council and its representation in Washington, are led by male and female co-chairs.

Legal Equality

In 2014, our administration passed landmark legislation that mandated equality in personal status, banned forced marriages and the marriages of children under the age of eighteen, and classified so-called “honor” crimes as murder. Under these laws, women’s organizations have consultative status in legislative proceedings and trials related to women’s rights.

Defeating ISIS

Women have participated in our fight against dictatorship and terrorism in Syria since 2011. Today, thousands of women serve in the Women’s Protection Units of the SDF, where they have played leading roles in liberating their communities from ISIS and keeping our region secure. Women commanders leading major SDF combat operations have worked with the Coalition to capture strategic cities like Raqqa.

Economic Empowerment

Our administration has set up women’s economic institutions to address the poverty and inequality that women disproportionately face in conflict zones. In Jazira Region alone, women’s cooperatives make up 6% of the local economy. These cooperatives, in key sectors like agriculture and textiles, allow women to gain work experience in an environment free of
exploitation, earn money without depending on their husbands or families, and strengthen the local economy.

Building Resilient Communities

Women in North and East Syria lead reconciliation efforts that solve disputes without resorting to the legal system, operate centers to protect victims of domestic violence, and bring new economic and social development programs into their communities through communes and
assemblies. Our administration is proud to combat the extremist ideology that allowed ISIS to flourish by ensuring that women of all ethnic and religious backgrounds can participate in political, social, and economic life at every level, from their neighborhoods to regional politics.

Studies show that peace agreements are more likely to succeed when women participate, and that greater political and social empowerment of women is essential for combating extremism and building free and fair societies. As the only actor in Syria to prioritize women’s rights and implement pro-women policies on the ground, we believe our laws and policies are a model for the future of the country that the world should support.