The Coalition of Syrian Women for Democracy held a panel discussion entitled “Women in the constitution and citizenship, in cooperation with the Asfari Center for Civil Society and Citizenship, and with the support of Euromed Feminist Initiative and SIDA. The panel was held in the American University of Beirut (AUB) on the 20th of September 2017.
Ms. Manar Zuaiter, Ms. Lama Kannout, Ms. Sabah Al Halaq, Mr. Hasan Abbas
The panel discussion was attended by students from the American University and many activists and representatives of civil society organizations.
The main objective of this panel was to advocate and raise awarness among youth about the gender-sensitive constitution due to their major role in the next phase of awareness raising and in case there will be a referendum on the constitution in the future.
The panel discussed two main issues:
- The constitutional guarantees for equality between citizens.
- Women in citizenship.
At the beginning of the discussion, Lama kannout, the coordinator of the coalition of Syrian women for Democracy clarified the importance of the political transition as an opportunity to reach the state of citizenship and she explained the three types of the contradiction between the Syrian law and the constitution articles with some actual examples. Then she talked about the constitutional guarantees of equality between citizens and mentioned the work of the Coalition of the Syrian Women for Democracy. Whereas the coalition has focused since its establishment in 2012 on the dissemination of gender-sensitive constitution principles. In addition, she said that the gender sensitive constitution, is a democratic constitution that corrects the political, economic and historical absence of women, provides the legal basis for women's empowerment and ensures that women and men have equal rights in the law. Then she addressed the main principles that must be included in the Constitution such as the importance of having mechanisms for enhancing the participation of women in all aspects of political and public life, the prohibition of direct and indirect gender-based discrimination, in accordance with international law, in particular the CEDAW Convention and the urge to have secular constitution that indicates the separation between religion and state.
Ms. Lama Kannout
Then Mr. Hasan Abbas, the director of Syrian League for Citizenship started his speech by defining the citizenship concept, and its principles (Participation, freedom, responsibility, and equality) and discussed how women can apply these pronciples. Furthermore, he said that in order to achieve citizenship we need to focus on education, whereas schools are the factory of citizenship. He also stressed that parallel to education, other socio-cultural mechanisms affect the consolidation of certain cultures and urged the need to focus on those mechanisms and asked to work more on them.
Mr. Hasan Abbas
Ms. Manar Zuaiter, laywer and human right activits clarified the difference between the social contract and the political contract whereas the constitution is a social contract between the people or the national community in order to organize their rights and guarantee their freedoms where the governor is not a party of this contract. While the relationship between the people and the governor is regulated by what we call the political contract. These two contracts are based on human rights principles and values, most importantly equality. She added that the protection mechanisms of the constitution are the actual guarantee to make sure it is not violated by bodies and officials.
Ms. Manar Zuaiter, Ms. Lama Kannout
In the end, an open discussion took place where the attendees shared their opinions regarding the previous interventions.