Voices of Syria’s Women

Monday May 22, 2017

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to catch an interview with Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim. Living in Syria as a journalist, Ms. Erhaim unintentionally became a war reporter when the war came to her. Since then, she has not only attempted to document the war within her own country (and now from afar in Turkey), she began training her fellow Syrian women to become journalists as well, in order to get their voices heard.

The result is the Institute for War & Peace Reporting’s Women’s Voices from Syria. The difference from the traditional (and I’d argue male) war reporting perspective is absolutely striking.

In one piece, a young mother, enjoying an evening at her parents’ house, gets caught in an ambush and is shot. As she is rushed off to the hospital, she can’t stop thinking about her 4 month old daughter, “it was time to breastfeed her and put her to bed.”

In another, a teenager recounts her first brush with the violence of ISIS.

Once you begin reading them, it is difficult to get their voices out of your mind. They are so incredibly relatable. Except they are living in a hellish landscape of war and chaos. Where a 19 year old girl is enthralled by “high heels and makeup” and her first year of college one moment, and mourning a dear friend the next.

War reporting is so often about overnight raids, or how many bombs have been dropped, how many troops killed in a firefight, how much money has been spent. Women, especially noncombatant women, are the “civilians,” reported on but always as a generic, abstract (albeit sympathetic) figure.

These stories are another form of war reporting; telling us what is actually happening, what people are actually living through, how it is affecting them.

And once you’ve finished taking in their stories, here is a list of charities that you can donate to that will help Syrian children and families.


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