Five years of war in Syria has triggered fundamental shifts in the roles and responsibilities of men and women within Syria and in neighbouring countries, a CARE International report has found.
The report, Women, Work and War, found that before the crisis Syrian women made up just 22 per cent of the workforce, which is low by international stands. In Australia, for example, the workforce participation rate for women is almost 59 per cent.
Both men and women told CARE their respective roles and responsibilities had been reversed by the upheaval in Syria.
Women are now taking a greater role in making decisions on household matters such as income and expenses, and have assumed more responsibilities outside the home.
Meanwhile men have lost their traditional role as sole breadwinner and decision-maker.
“Women are stepping up because they must,” said Salam Kanaan, Country Director of CARE International in Jordan.
“Many are assuming the role of breadwinner while other women walk a tightrope between generating income and managing the disapproval of their husbands or male relatives – as traditionally, men were the main wage-earners in Syria.
“We need to work with communities to ensure there is support for women as they seek to contribute to family incomes, and that specific support for women does not trigger a backlash.”
CARE is working with women in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to help them gain access to things like vocational training, cash-for-work opportunities and credit and grants.
In neighbouring countries that host Syrian refugees, CARE is providing vocational training opportunities to women and men on subjects ranging from mobile phone and computer repair to jewellery-making and embroidery.
With the UN Commission on the Status of Women being held in New York until March 24, CARE is calling for increased attention on the needs of women in emergencies by ensuring women are given the voice and space to become an active part of the solution.
To donate to CARE’s Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal, visit care.org.au/syria, call 1800 DONATE (1800 020 046).
To arrange interviews with Salam Kanaan, Country Director of CARE International in Jordan, or for more information and images, please contact Sam Bolitho (0419 567 777)