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Abstract

The status of women in Syria has undergone great change in the last century and particularly in the decade leading up to the Syrian Arab Spring. Despite this advancement, many women are still not permitted the freedom to convert their capabilities into chosen valued activities and achievements. This has resulted in a lack of agency to decide, act and bring change in Syria. Most women do not partake in political and public life and, due to the nature of the regime and the socio-cultural landscape, their freedom to make decisions affecting their status within the public and private sphere is restricted. Women have achieved the capability of being educated, yet many have not converted this into the functioning of employment. The conversion of a capability is restricted by the social conversion factors that a patriarchal society influences. However, there are many Syrian women whose freedoms are less restricted. It was found that social class and geographic location have a significant impact in women’s ability to achieve their capabilities and functionings. Women born into the middle and upper-classes in urban areas have far more opportunities than those born into lower class families and in rural areas. The Syrian Arab Spring has seen women using their agency and challenging traditional gendered roles within the society, though it remains to be seen what the future holds for women. Nonetheless, women are demanding a more equal society that is inclusive of all women’s freedoms.

Note on the Author

Lorraine Charles currently works in the UAE as a researcher at the Institute of International and Civil Security at Khalifa University. She has lived and worked in the Middle East since 2004. She has an MA in International Policy and Diplomacy from Staffordshire University, UK. Her research interests include migration, security and gender in the Middle East. Kate Denman has lived and worked in Syria for extended periods from 2007 to 2010, during which time she co-founded refocusproject.org which works with youth in Syria. She is finalizing her MA in Education, Gender and International Development at the Institute of Education, London. Her research interests include social justice, art for social change and gender in the Middle Eastern and Latin American contexts.

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