To mark International Women's Day 2016, for which the official theme is #PledgeForParity, we are profiling some of our female peacebuilders around the world and asking them: What does gender parity mean for peace?
Amani is project co-ordinator Basmeh & Zeitooneh, where she supervises our peace education work for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Please describe your background and the project you are working on. What are the challenges/ opportunities for gender equality in your project.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and I am pursuing a Master's degree in Anthropology. I work as a project coordinator for Basmeh & Zeitooneh, where I supervise the peace education programme in Turkey.
Gender equality is one of the main themes of this programme, which engages with refugee children aged from six to 16 years old. One of our main challenges is to change our community and cultural legacies so that parents take action to stop child marriage, abuse, violence, and child labour. We advocate for children’s rights.
What is a typical day as a peacebuilder like for you?
Every day is spent with children who have experienced war, fear, and immigration. We try to entrench a culture of peace. Dealing with the suffering of the children is a huge challenge. When I first started working with displaced children I was horrified by what some of them went through - their journey of fleeing the war, and the violence and loss of loved ones they have suffered. I try to help them move on, to laugh again, enjoy life, and to resolve family issues or problems peacefully.
What do you enjoy most and what do you find most challenging about your job?
Building a child’s ability to negotiate with his family for his rights. And that’s also our biggest challenge. I enjoy it when the children’s parents call us and say: “What are you teaching my kids? Because they are always talking about their rights, and asking for their right to play and to visit the garden each weekend”.
What role can gender equality/ women’s empowerment play in peace in Syria?
Wherever there is conflict, women must be part of the solution. Women have a prominent role in spreading a culture of peace.
Which women inspire you and why?
A lot of women inspire me. One of them is the ‘Iron Lady’ Margret Thatcher. She once said: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”. And that’s my favorite quote.
Will you be celebrating Women’s Day? How?
My father has a flower shop in Beirut, so my family and I always celebrate International Women’s Day by sending our customers a single white rose on this special day.
Will you be celebrating Women’s Day this year? How?
Women’s Day for me is no different than any other day! It’s just the flowers in the morning that set the mood.