Discrimination against Women in Syrian Society (I/II): Awareness of Women Rights and Freedoms

Posted on: August 29, 2017 at 7:40 am

In order to assess awareness of women rights and liberties in Syrian society, The Day After (TDA) conducted a comprehensive survey in six Syrian governorates in areas under opposition and regime control in addition to refugee camps in Turkey. The survey was based on multistage stratified sample based on proportional allocation (men/women). The number of respondents was 2091 including 1120 men and 971 women in different Syrian governorates. Data were collected using a questionnaire and one-to-one interviews conducted by trained TDA researchers. This report presents the data analysis findings.

The research set out to try to identify the extent of awareness among respondents of inequality between men and women in Syrian society. The results were quite similar between men and women (around 60% each). The results analysis did not show any association between awareness of inequality and age, income, marital status or profession. A relationship was found, however, with other variables such as region, ethnicity and ideology among both men and women and a weak association with education among men. Upon delving into details of certain aspects of this inequality (education and work), however, the study revealed that most men are satisfied with this inequality in the field of work as 75% said they object to women work or have conditions thereon, while women were equally divided. In the field of education, on the other hand, most men said women must complete their education to the level they want (69.8%); there is a near-consensus among women (87.5%). Afterwards, the study was able to identify social and demographic categories in which rejection of women’s education or work or putting conditions thereon are more widespread.

In the second part, the study sought to follow the perceptions of the disparities between capacities and capabilities, where the nature of the prevalence of the belief in the scarcity of women capable of holding important positions was determined. It seems that the professions historically associated with women, such as education and care are the positions which women can effectively hold, in their opinion (our question was about the principal of a certain school). However, the answers begin to vary gradually with leading positions requiring important decisions, where the study found that the majority of men (63.7%) doubted the ability of women to occupy important administrative or political positions, while only 19.5% of them did not. While the percentage of support dropped to half among women, they maintained the greatest percentage (49.1%) compared to the (35.9%) who opposed it. The study also revealed that the majority of men and women skeptical of women’s capabilities believe that women are unable to hold a leadership position like the head of a local council, and it appears they are grouped together as being incapable of managing a high position like the presidency of a country.

The third chapter tackled in details the subject of women leadership. Results showed that half the Syrian society (women) are ready to accept the challenge and support women leadership in such positions as the head of a local council. The other half (men), however, are still not ready to do so as their personal attitude matched their expectations of their communities’ response to women running for such positions: 37.5% of men said a woman may win the local council elections in their region, and 36.7% said they might vote for her. The percentage was different among women: 58.1% believe that a woman may win but when the question was about personal attitude, the percentage increased to 68.2%. In tackling factors affecting the election of a woman candidate for local council chairpersonship, it turned out that academic proficiency or administrative experience were the most important factors among both men and women followed by her political and ideological position, while her attire and external appearance ranked third, her sect ranked fourth while the fact that she is a woman was the last priority for voters.

The fourth chapter focussed on identifying respondents’ attitudes about some procedures related to combating discrimination against women such as the equality of men and women before the law, stipulating a minimum age for marriage to combat marriage of minors, equal distribution of inheritance, supporting women associations, and women’s freedom to choose the way she is dressed. Results showed very considerable support among respondents to the proposal of supporting women associations concerned with defending women’s rights (71.6% of men vs. 95.7% of women in our sample). The results also showed that there is a near-consensus among women (83.4%) on the importance of ensuing equality of men and women before the law, while the largest proportion of men agreed to such guarantees. A considerable percentage (31.0%), however, of men objected to such guarantees. Further, there is a near-consensus among women to support measures to combat marriage of minors (79.2%) while only about half of the men agreed and 30.0% disagreed. As for equal distribution of inheritance and the protection of personal freedom (women’s dress in this case) about half women disagreed while the majority of men (67%) disagreed.

The research concludes with a set of remarks and recommendations for organizations, donors, politicians, intellectuals, local and government authorities to build on the findings of this research. These findings may help them set plans and programs to combat discrimination against women and such findings are important to prioritise efforts, hence organize, guide and manage such efforts as these findings show the categories or locations in which views and perceptions rejecting women’s rights and liberties are more spread and which need to be prioritised to make the measures and decisions more effective and efficient. Below is a summary of the findings reflecting the distribution of those views and perceptions

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