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New Zealanders stand in solidarity with the women of Syria


International Women’s Day: New Zealanders stand in solidarity with the women of Syria


Today marks International Women’s Day, and across the country we are asking New Zealanders to take a stand with the women of Syria.


“The Syrian conflict has taken a brutal toll on women and girls, both within and outside the country. Women are bearing the brunt of the pointless bloodshed which has been going on for nearly five years,” said Meg de Ronde, Campaigns Director at Amnesty International in New Zealand.


We, the undersigned organisations, note with great concern that the Syrian government and several armed groups are committing horrific abuses against women and girls in a climate of total impunity. Within Syria, women face rape and sexual assault, arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance, the denial of life-saving aid and the destruction of their homes, hospitals and schools. Those who have fled the country, for example to neighbouring Lebanon, experience discrimination, exploitation and sexual harassment in their everyday lives.


While the women of Syria face intense pressure, we wish to highlight that they persist as political activists, aid workers, teachers and caregivers. Women-led organisations are active on the ground across the country and in refugee camps, undertaking crucial work for civilians affected by the conflict. Despite extraordinary loss and constant abuse, they stay strong and resilient.


“This International Women’s Day, it is time to demand safety and dignity for the women of Syria, and urge our government to up its game in support of them,” said Meg de Ronde.


“New Zealand has recently adopted a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. This plan is a crucial tool to advance women’s rights relative to issues of international peace and security. It should serve as an impetus to redouble our support for the women of Syria.”


Firstly, we call on the New Zealand government to increase resettlement and other pathways of admission for Syrian women and girls at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.


Secondly, we urge New Zealand to boost its financial assistance to overwhelmed refugee host countries, including Lebanon. Parts of the additional funding must be specifically targeted towards the protection of women and girls at risk, and aim to meet their immediate medical, psycho-social, and economic needs.


Thirdly, New Zealand must use its role on the UN Security Council to press for women’s active participation in determining Syria’s future. UN-led peace negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition leaders are expected to resume on 9 March, yet women’s meaningful participation is not guaranteed.


“Women are crucial actors for change, and empirical evidence shows that peace is more likely to prevail and hold if women are fully involved in building it,” said Meg de Ronde.


“Currently it looks as if only the men with guns will be represented at Syria’s next round of peace talks. It is time that women’s voices are heard, and we need countries like New Zealand to exert pressure to ensure their meaningful participation in peace negotiations.”

Signatories:


Amnesty International

National Council of Women of New Zealand

Women in International Security

World Vision New Zealand

Council for International Development

ENDS/


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