“Syrian women participated in the revolution primarily in their capacity as citizens”, one of the co-founders of the Network of Syrian Female Journalists has said to SyriaUntold. “But their role has been declining, due in part to their leaving the country in huge numbers, but also to the lack of media coverage of their struggle.”
The need to address and retrieve the role of Syrian women in the uprising led three women, Rola Assad, Milia Eidmoni, and Lamis al-Jasem to promote support and joint efforts between Syrian female journalists. In the summer of 2012, after the three partook in a media workshop in Germany, they decided to create the Network of Syrian Female Journalists.
The network aims to promote the right to free expression, which has been repressed in the country for decades, to achieve gender equality through the role of media, to challenge the image of women projected by media and to enhance the presence of highly qualified female journalists in the media landscape.
It took a while for the network to formally constitute themselves as an association, prior to which they were supported by Dutch NGO Hivos and Canal France International (CFI). The feedback they received was so positive that they were encouraged to establish themselves as a Dutch-based association. However, they have not managed to secure a stable source of funding for their work yet, due to the confusion of donors as to whether the organisation is fundamentally focused on media or on gender issues. The founders insist that "both gender equality and media" are at the core of the network.
Since its creation, the network has provided advice to several press groups and organizations in the field of women's rights and gender equality and facilitated a number of workshops to provide training on those issues. They have also engaged in campaigns during the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, International Women's Day and calls for the release of detained and abducted Syrian women.