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Women’s Economic Rights

Strategies and Recommendations from North and East Syria 


Written By: Daryous Aldarwish: Co-Founder and Programs Director at TEVIN


Executive Summary

This paper discusses the status of women's economic rights in northeastern Syria and the impact of social customs, traditions, and both the old and new legal systems in the region on these rights. The paper prioritizes the discussion of fundamental economic rights in work, inheritance, and divorce due to their direct effects on women's economic independence and, consequently, their freedom.

Regarding the right to work, the paper outlines a set of social obstacles that women face, preventing them from working or compelling them to leave work. These obstacles include the refusal of late hours working for women by their families, the refusal to let them work outside their city or village, and throwing the entire burden of household responsibilities and childcare on women, on top of their professional duties. The private sector also presents practical and social challenges for women in the workplace, such as limiting them to stereotypical roles, undervaluing the importance of their work and managerial capabilities solely because of their gender, wage inequality, limited opportunities for career advancement, and various workplace violations, including verbal harassment.

Regarding women's inheritance rights, the paper concludes that prevailing customs in the Kurdish and Arab societies in northeastern Syria practically deprive women of their inheritance, in clear opposition even to the minimum limits set by Syrian law which is already derived from the most male-centric interpretations of Sharia’s inheritance law in Islam. Pressure is exerted on women to discourage them from claiming their legal rights, ranging from social isolation to, in rare cases, murder, reflecting a societal view of women as familial property rather than individuals within the family.

The paper also addresses the material consequences of divorce on women and the economic challenges they face along with their children, due to the lack or inadequacy of financial support coupled with difficulties in securing employment. Meanwhile, men continue their lives as if they were never married. The paper analyzes aspects of the Social Contract and the new Family Law in the Autonomous Administration and their impact on gender equality in marriage and divorce. Despite some ambiguity and lack of clarity in certain provisions regarding equality and the rights of non-working women, these legal frameworks show promising signs of revolutionary changes in women's rights within society and the family.


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