Remarks by Åsa Regnér, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women at Brussels V Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”


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Two weeks ago, we marked a grim milestone – the 10-year anniversary of the Syria conflict. Both in response to the conflict and to the COVID-19 crisis, the Syrian people have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and leadership.

Women are serving as breadwinners, as humanitarian first responders, as leaders in displacement camps, and as peacebuilders negotiating local ceasefires.

In responding to the conflict, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, women across Syria and in countries hosting refugees are leading initiatives that provide health and essential services.

Yet conflict-related sexual violence continues; girls are increasingly dropping out of school; there is an increase in domestic violence, child marriage and food insecurity; and women are facing rising care responsibilities and loss of livelihoods.

The gendered impact of this conflict will echo long after the fighting stops, so we must focus on key steps to empower Syrian women:

  • We need to support more women in accessing justice, education, livelihood opportunities and relieve them from the disproportionate unpaid care burden.
  • We must expand investments to increase access to services for survivors of gender-based violence.
  • And, we must ensure that women´s organizations are adequately resourced, both for delivering essential services in refugee and host communities and for their active leadership in local and national mediation efforts.

Syria’s future will not be sustainable without the participation and contribution of women.

UN Women will continue to work with governments, civil society and UN agencies to extend dedicated women´s centres in host and refugee communities.

We will also continue to work with the UN Special Envoy for Syria and with Syrian women, including through the Women´s Advisory Board, to advance the direct and meaningful participation of diverse women at all levels of political decision-making.

With increased and better coordinated resources earmarked for women and girls, we can collectively do more, and our overall impact will increase.

Thank you.