Bahá'í Chair Lecture Offers Insight into Syrian Women in Conflict

On Nov. 24, the Bahá'í Chair for World Peace presented its second Fall Lecture: “Women in Conflicts, Past and Present: The Syrian Case,” a lecture by Professor Fruma Zachs of the University of Haifa, Israel.

Part of the Chair’s Series on Empowerment of Women and Peace, the lecture focused on the situation of women in modern Syria, both past and present, and attempted to showcase the activities of these women during times of conflict, and in particular, their protest during the earlier phases of the civil war in Syria.

Dr. Zachs presented the transformations that Syrian women underwent during these four years of war, moving between society's center and periphery. The lecture started with a historical background on women in Syria, continued with a general description of the condition of women under the Baath party, and ended with an account of their activities during the civil war—focusing on their incentives for demonstration, the characteristics of their protest, and the elaboration of a few distinct examples of such women.

As an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa, Israel, Dr. Zachs focuses her research on the intellectual and cultural history of Greater Syria, and the formation of national and gendered identities in modern Syria. She is the author of The Making of a Syrian Identity: Intellectuals and Merchants in 19th Century Beirut (Brill, 2005), co-author of Gendering Culture in Greater Syria: Intellectuals and Ideology in the Late Ottoman Period, (I.B. Tauris, expected Nov 2014) and has also written several articles.

This event underscored the Bahá'í Chair’s commitments both to engage people of all races, gender identities, socioeconomic backgrounds and religions and value systems in the pursuit of peace—and to share expertise and perspectives from thought leaders of diverse backgrounds  in so doing.

Dr. Hoda Mahmoudi, the incumbent of the Chair, said, “Professor Zachs’ lecture was timely because of the ongoing civil war in Syria. Yet her exploration of how Syrian women respond to conflict represented a unique and less examined perspective."