Syria/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

The Syrian Constitution:

The constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic, issued in the beginning of the year 2012, states in Chapter 3, article 23 that: “The state guarantees women all opportunities, enabling them to fully and effectively participate in the political, social, cultural, and economic life.  The state removes the restrictions that prevent woman development and participation in building the socialist Arab society”.



Indicators on Woman Empowerment:

According to numbers, women are living in an era which hasn’t been witnessed before. A report conducted by the United Nations Development Program in 2005 states that 11% of the Syrian ambassadors and almost 15% of diplomats are female, 21 women are direct managers and 27 others are vice-managers. In 2006, prof. Najah Al Attar became the first woman of holding the vice-presidential post. In labor committees, the number has reached 1600 women with another 240 in labor syndicate offices and 13 in executive offices. Also, 180 women are working as judges, two as secretary generals of two of the National Front’s parties and one as the head of the Homs city cabinet. In the field of information, the percentage of women working is (38%) of Journalists Union members, (50%) in visual media and (30%) in written media. In 2009, and for the first time ever, a woman held the post of Attorney General in one of the Syrian governorates.


Based on a study prepared by the BusinesswomenCommittee  on the reality of the Syrian woman and her development, the special indicators on enabling women can be measured in three domains:

  • The political Participation and Decision-Making: this can be measured by the percentage granted to men and women in the Parliament (12% in the PeopleAssembly and 3.1% in the local administrations).

  • The Economic Participation and Decision-Making: this can be measured through two indicators: the percentages of men and women with regard to the posts of legislators, high-ranking officials, and directors and the percentages of men and women with regard to vocational and technical posts (7% in the Ministry, 11% in the diplomatic corps, 13.38% members of the Journalists Union, 38% of the Journalist Union).

  • Control over the Economic Resources: it is measured by the estimated income of men and women.

 


Women in all work sectors constitute 20.1% (the agricultural, industrial, and service sectors) of the total Syrian labor force.


According to the Syrian Statistical Abstract for 2004, the following can be mentioned:

 

  • With regard to the age category between 15-19, women constitutes 29.1% of the labor force compared to 17.7% of men in the agricultural field.

  • With regard to the age category between 20-24, the percentage is 23.2% of women labor force in the agricultural field compared to 17.3%.

  • The percentage is even for men and women in the agricultural field for the age category between 30-34.

  • As for the other sectors, there are no clear statistics due to the interference between these sectors.

  • The average of unemployment between women is double of that amongst men.

  • The incomes of female workers in the different sectors range between (5000-9001 SYP), with its highest averages in the agricultural field.

 


According to the survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics at the end of the year 2006, an enormous decrease is noticed in the percentage of Syrian female workers from the total available female force in the country, and that the percentage of Syrian female workers does not exceed 13% of the total force.


To give this result another dimension, we should realize the fact that approximately 120,000 female workers working in the private sector get no salary. In other words, they work just because they’re family members, especially including women in the Syrian countryside.


The World Economic Forum in 2013 listed Syria at the bottom of rankings with regard to women’s empowerment in the crisis. The international report on Syria revealed that the country went down to number 132 out of 135 countries when it comes to gender inequality, as opposed to ranking 124 out of 134 countries in 2011.[1] On 20 September  2014, a discussion session was held at the headquarters of the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs in collaboration with the Syrian Association for Knowledge and Culture. The session was held in order to review and analyze the implications of the current crisis on the reality of women in Syria, as well as to discuss ways of empowering women in various fields to strengthen their role and improve quality of life for women, family and society. Theoretical initiatives and recommendations were proposed in relation to the topic.[2]



Decision-Making:

The first female Minister in the Syrian Cabinet was Prof. Najah Al Attar who was appointed in 1976 as the Minister of Culture. She was promoted, and recently occupied the post of Vice-President for Cultural Affairs. On 18/7/2014 legislative decree number 228 was published instating Dr. Najah Al Attar as Vice President of the Government, in addition to her continued role implementing cultural policy according to the President of the Republic’s instructions.   In 2006, Colliette Khoury, a writer and literary figure, was appointed as the first presidential advisor for cultural affairs.


Three women were appointed to Bashar Assad’s fourth Government Cabinet formed on 22/6/2012. The first wass Eng. Hala Mohammad Al Nassir as the Minister of Tourism;tThe second wass Prof. Lubana Mshawah as the Minister of Culture; and the third wass Prof. Nazira Farah Sarkiss as a State Minister for Environmental Affairs. Bashar Assad also reshuffled the Cabinet in 2013 to include three women who were delegated Ministerial portfolios, Lubnana Mshawah and Nazira Farah Sarkiss kept their ministerial portfolios and Kinda Al Shammat was appointed as Minister of Social Affairs until Decree number 273 was published in 2013, that ruled the creation of the Syrian cabinet wherein only Kinda al Shammat and Nazira Farah Sarkiss kept their pervious portfolios.



Ministry of Culture

The MOC Central Administration has four female directors. Five more female Head of Directorates were appointed. The percentage of female directors at Al-Assad National Library reached 70%, seven female directors at Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts, and a female was appointed as Director of the Department of Fine Arts[3].


Women in Decision Making Positions at Ministry of Culture

 


Presence of Women in Administrative Positions at the MOC and affiliated bodies and directorates – 2008

Number of Employees

Male

Female

Total

Personnel

780

269

1049

Directors

14

4

 

Chief Department

20

5

 

 

Number of Male/Female Workers at Dar Al Assad General Establishment for Culture and Arts

Number of Employees

Male

Female

Total

Personnel

186

68

254

Directors

-

7

7

 

Number of Male/Female Workers at Soulhi Al Wadi Institute for Music

 

Male

Female

Total

Educational boards

50

25

 

Students

344

253

 

New applicants – 2009, born 2001

54

76

 

New applicants – 2009, born 2000

50

30

 

 

Number of Male/Female Workers at the General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums

Number of Employees

Male

Female

Total

Personnel

1265

503

1768

Directors at Central Administration

10

1

 

Specialists in Scientific, Artistic and Human domain

237

235

 

Clerical Works

54

86

 

Services Jobs

700

35

 

Other

264

146

 

 

Number of Male/Female Workers at Intermediate Institute of Antiquities

 

Male

Female

Total

Personnel

10

8

18

Educational Board

16

14

30

Students 2008

52

76

128

Graduates 2007

12

19

31

 

The tables above are official numbers available up until updating the research in 2014.






[3] National Report of Syria on Beijing + 15, Syrian Commission for Family Affairs, 2009.


Chapter published: 06-05-2016


EN | ES