Syrian women refugees speak of hardship on International Women’s Day

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Lebanon is now a home to tens of thousands of Syrian families, mostly women and children, who have fled the violence in Syria.

Many of them have taken refuge in the northern city of Tripoli where women refugees mark another International Women’s Day on Friday (March 8) away from their homes.

With the civil war back in Syria showing no sign of ending, Syrian women are getting together to support each other.

Many of them have heartbreaking stories to tell - like Iman.

“For me, my son is a martyr, he died during the events in Syria without doing anything to be guilty of, my husband is detained, my father is displaced, my brother is wounded. What can this day mean to me? This day means nothing at all to me. On the contrary, the Syrian woman is now devastated by all meaning, she is suffering. We are displaced and we have no one to support us,” Iman said.

“Where are women’s rights? Do women only have rights when they are in the West? Aren’t Syrian women just like other women?,” she added, choking back tears.

Em Firas, who lives in a rented house in Tripoli with her children and elderly, sick mother, says the day is a reminder of the injustice e that Syrian women are living.

“Today is all about injustice and defeat, all the mothers are crying and to us there is no such thing as Women’s Day when you see how we are living. Women are carrying all the worries of the world on their shoulders,” she said.

Abir, a young woman who found safety in Lebanon, said she hoped the image of Syrian women be restored.

“What the Syrian woman needs today is... when she was displaced, her image changed completely, the Syrian woman has become the one holding a cardboard sign for help, or carrying her son and begging. This is the Syrian woman’s image. We have to change this image and get the Syrian woman their strength and rights back, like when she used to be in Syria, not like here.

This is not the image of Syrian woman that we want which we are seeing here in Lebanon,”Abir said.
Many Syrian refugees in Arab countries are facing increasing financial hardship, leaving some of them to turn to the streets, including begging and, according to some reports - prostitution.

International Women’s Day was first celebrated in the early 1900’s, and is now observed in many countries around the world. The day aims to highlight the issues and struggles faced by women.

On Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency said one million people have fled Syria’s civil war, piling pressure on the country’s neighbors who are struggling to support them.
Around half the refugees are children, most of them aged under 11, and the numbers leaving are mounting every week, UNHCR added.

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