Why the UK is spotlighting Syrian women’s issues

The UK wants a strong voice for Syrian women to help reach a political solution to the Syria crisis.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary has written to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Foreign Ministers from a wide range of countries calling for Syrian women's groups and civil society to have a formal role at the Geneva2 negotiations.

The Foreign Secretary met representatives of the Syrian Women's Initiative for Peace and Democracy at Montreux on 22 January after the opening session of Geneva2. He was impressed by their determination to play a role in helping to build a new democratic Syria.

William Hague has instructed me and his other officials to use UK political influence and funds to promote Syrian women's issues at Geneva2 and elsewhere. I have met a wide range of Syrian women activists and have listened carefully to their priorities and their ideas for how the UK can best help them. We remain keen to do so.

The UK demands a stronger voice for Syrian women because women are disproportionately affected by the crisis in Syria

Jon Wilks

The UK has hosted events to provide an international platform for women's groups. The UK has also funded projects to increase the National Coalition's knowledge and expertise on women's issues and to support independent Syrian women's organizations. We are working closely with the leading women in the National Coalition to build Syrian women's networks across Syria.

The UK is also supporting experts and activists on the collection of forensic and other evidence of human rights abuses including sexual violence, for future use in criminal trials.

The UK demands a stronger voice for Syrian women because women are disproportionately affected by the crisis in Syria, particularly in terms of the violence they and their families face and their need for access to humanitarian aid.

Women just as much as men have an essential role to play in reducing the impact of the conflict on families and communities. Their inclusion in local and national peace processes is crucial to speeding up a political settlement in Syria and to building a better future for all Syrians.

Jon Wilks is the UK Special Representative to the Syrian Opposition, previously serving as British Ambassador to Yemen.Wilks joined the Diplomatic Service in 1989 and began his career as a desk officer in the Middle East Department. Two years full time Arabic language training followed, which led to postings in Sudan and Saudi Arabia. In 2002 he volunteered to serve on temporary duty as Deputy Head of Mission in Afghanistan. Later in 2002 he was seconded to the Cabinet Office Assessments Staff as an Iraq analyst and followed this in April 2003 with a diplomatic posting as deputy head of the team that reopened the British mission in Baghdad after the Iraq war. After 7 months in Baghdad, he returned to FCO in 2004 working in the Iraq Policy Unit. In 2005 he entered a new field, joining the FCO’s Political/Military team as Deputy Head of Security Policy Group. In 2007, he was the UK Government’s first regional Arabic Spokesman, based in Dubai and travelling throughout the Arab world. He tweets @JonWilksFCO.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.