When I came to Ottawa, I had a new name: the sisters. This name gave me power and kept me motivated. We are all from the most difficult countries in the world, different situations and levels of conflict, all working toward freedom and peace. We cried, laughed, learned and shared experiences and stories.
Every conflict is different. There is no blueprint to follow. There is so much to learn from the range of experience accumulated in conflict prevention and peace–building work. Evaluation, documentation of experience and communication among activists and peacebuilders are essential to make certain that the lessons are widely available. After the program I have the help and support of sisters around the world.
In developing countries, there is no democracy and no rights. In Syria women’s organizations have been engaged in a bold experiment to break through the barriers of pain, mistrust and fear to search for freedom and common ground. We break the silence.
In Syria we have a dictator president. I have not voted before in my life and I have a dream to participate in elections. The program gave me the chance to meet members of parliament and ambassadors in embassies, talking and urge them as all human. Women’s voices have been marginalized in mainstream discussions on everything. Many women are angry that our voices have historically been ignored. The program taught me how to prepare my key messages to be ready for public speaking or for academic events in universities — and helped me transfer this knowledge to Syrian NGOs I work with.
I try to make my feminism intersectional because it is powerful to listen to the experiences of women different from me. There is not one lived experience of what it means to be a woman. I want feminism to be a movement where all women feel able to take part if they choose to, not one where some women’s voices are isolated.
We are all privileged in one way or another and those with more privilege should work to level the playing field. That said, although an intersectional approach to feminism and “checking your privilege” is good, we are human. Nobody is perfect. We will forget our privilege sometimes. These things are inevitable because as human beings we are inherently flawed.
To make the world a better place for women, not only do we need an intersectional approach to our feminism — we must find a way to stop fighting and start working together.