On August 18th, 2013 SETF in partnership with WDN successfully completed the first Syrian Women’s Election and Governance Training. Out of a total of 30 participants invited to participate in the training, 24 attended. The first three days of the training focused on candidacy and elections while the final two days focused on democracy and governance.
During the workshop, the trainers had the participants pair up and develop a campaign platform. One partner then served as the candidate and the other partner served as a voter or a constituent. The exercise allowed the women to practice delivering their campaign platform and message.
The trainers emphasized the importance of developing a message appealing to many people including men and women while addressing their constituents concerns. A member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (Etilaf) conducted an election exercise with the participants in order to teach them the proper process for an election.
Political parties and candidates were created for the mock election. Initially she encouraged the women to cheat and vote multiple times after which, they were instructed to vote properly. The participants really enjoyed the hands-on nature of the election exercise.
The final two days of the training were on the topic of democracy and governance. The trainer, a woman from Jordan, instructed through a number of activities including the “democracy tree” initiating conversation about democratic ideas in Syria and SWOT analysis.
According to the exercise, societal expectations and norms were identified as the main barrier to entry for women in the political sphere. Overall, the workshop was a success drawing the attention of many organizations and State Department Officials.
Syrian Opposition Coalition and local council representatives visited the training allowing for crucial networking and discussion between the Syrian women and their representatives about their needs. The U.S. Department of State’s CSO was able to provide laptops and phones to all participants.
From 4 – 8 October 2013, Omnia Strategy LLP and the Syrian Emergency Task Force held a Conference on Developing the Rule of Law in Syria: Transitional Justice and Human Rights in southern Turkey. The United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office funded the program as part of their efforts to promote peace and enhance justice sector capabilities within Syria.
Over 55 free judges, lawyers and police chiefs from across Syria attended representing almost every province, and receiving trainings from leading international law barristers and academics. Delegates from the United Kingdom and United States of America governments, the Syrian Opposition Coalition and other international actors also attended as observers.
The conference lasted four days and included two major objectives. The first was to collect all the relevant actors responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of rule of law in Syria and conduct a holistic needs assessment. This included both material and training needs and was done in both large-group settings and through smaller focus groups of lawyers, judges and police. The second aim, was to begin with a program of training around the effective implementation of justice based on international standards of human rights, collection of evidence for an international tribunal, and standardization and cooperation between groups in implementing justice.
In the coming weeks, funders, participants and observers will be provided with a Report that outlines the details of the Conference and highlights a series of recommendations that could be taken to support future Foreign & Commonwealth Office efforts to promote peace and justice within Syria. It is intended further meetings with the participants will be held over the coming months, responding to needs identified at the September meeting. Omnia Strategy LLP and the Syrian Emergency Task Force have built strong relationships with the 55 participants since a first meeting in Antakya, Turkey, in June 2013.
This last Eid Oct.15 2013, SETF was apart of Harran Al-awamed Udhiyah campaign to help feed a lot of people who would not otherwise have access to food.
SETF also helped in getting Udhiyah to Al- Moadamia and Al-Ghouta in the south and east of Damascus where people now, after the chemical attack, are facing starvation because the Regime forces are stopping food and other goods from coming in. SETF was able to supply 11,000$ worth of livestock including 12 cows and several goats, so people in the besieged areas could have the traditional Eid meal.
In November 2012, SETF opened a field office, which serves as a headquarters for Syrian activists on the ground, a central training location for opposition members, a working base for transitional justice and civil society groups to collect forensic evidence and testimonials of war crimes, and is a coordinating location for aid into the country. Syrian activist, Razan Shalab Alsham serves as our office manager.
In the liberated areas in the north of Syria, civilians are finding ways to develop grassroots civilian democratic structures to provide rule of law, basic services such as trash collection, civilian police force, and utilities. These CACs are being created out of necessity, but they are also the seeds of proto-democratic structures that the Syrian people themselves developed without international help. Defying conventional wisdom, the authority of the CACs is respected by the armed opposition, because they are providing social services and a structure that encourages stability for the families of the men currently fighting the regime. It is important that the funding mechanism being employed helps to further unite the opposition and mitigates financial competition from occurring. Support of CACs helps to stabilize liberated areas and provide civilian oversight and authority.