Alaa Mohammed – Syrian Journalist and Member of the Syrian Feminist Lobby
“Your support helped me overcome this phase. Your presence gave me strength.” These are words spoken by women to other women who have supported them during times when they faced discrimination and violence, whether from their families or their surrounding societies. Solidarity might be the most crucial lesson we, as women, should learn and apply to each other’s issues. It is connected to our awareness of our suffering in societies marked by discriminatory exclusion.
Women are not enemies of women. We must acknowledge that the primary victims of gender-based discrimination are women. They are utilized by individuals, groups, or dominating institutions that exploit them to suppress each other. Some women may even collude with this discriminatory reality and promote the superiority of men, perpetuating the stereotype that women have no value without their connection to men.
Our societal culture has raised and nurtured us to believe that we cannot learn from each other’s experiences as women and that it is natural for us to be “enemies.” Many jokes and sarcastic remarks have been made in this context, leading some of us to believe this situation is an absolute truth beyond doubt.
If we genuinely want to change the status of women within our societies, we must believe in our experiences as women or break free from this culture that has misled us. We need to focus on the true meaning of solidarity.
Solidarity helps us understand the struggles of women beyond our narrow circles and how they have overcome challenges and problems that face all women throughout our life journey. It propels activists forward, encouraging them to continue working and resisting all attempts to suppress women and prevent them from persisting in the fight for their rights.
Solidarity enhances the capacity to resist violence against women, motivating them to take initiative and fight. Thus, it showcases the true strength of solidarity, which can form a sizeable collective foundation towards their issues, primarily when organized collectively within well-planned campaigns where the goal is clear and the ability to access violent places and prevent it is increased.
The power of solidarity lies in dismantling the barriers among women created by the societal culture of discrimination against them. This is achieved by focusing on common points and giving a positive dimension to differences, which can also contribute to change. We are not all alike in our thinking, nor do we all agree on every issue. However, we certainly believe that women in our societies deserve a better life.
Perhaps we hear voices saying they are not concerned about a certain issue; for example, we mention “sexual harassment” because they have not experienced such a thing. Here, we face individual ethical standards. We can solidify based on our commitment to the feminist movement and women’s rights advocacy conducted by institutions and organizations, aiming primarily to end all forms of gender-based discrimination.
Achieving victory in our women’s issues requires us to exert double the effort to overcome the social upbringing rooted in discrimination. This upbringing stands as one of the primary causes of violence against women. We can confront this by developing tools of solidarity and forming networks with multiple parties within society.
At that point, feminist solidarity directly confronts the cultural system upheld by patriarchal norms, which aims to pit women against each other and foster animosity among them or even against the opposite gender. This enables us to shatter the slogan “women are enemies to women.”
Our solidarity as women, whether we agree or disagree, and creating safe spaces for discussing our issues opens up a vast realm for more profound comprehension of the causes of our differences and the analysis of the sources of animosity within us. Thus, we can rid ourselves of the negative emotions implanted in us that lead us to believe we are the cause of our oppression.