*”Liberated T”, is a Syrian advocacy campaign that aims to change the negative gender stenotypes imposed mainly by our society on women, it focuses on theSyrian women’s stories, battles, and experiences. It will also expose the gender based violations they face on their daily lives. *In standard Arabic language the femininity letter T added to the verb to make it feminine is named “The Quiet T”. Our campaign uses the same femininity T but we are changing its name into liberated T, instead of “quiet”.

About Ishraka: The First Woman in the Local Council of Lattakia

About Ishraka: The First Woman in the Local Council of Lattakia

When the non-violent protests began in Lattakia, Ishraka Mustafa was already in a regime prison.

She was jailed for five months for her activity on opposition websites, and when she was released could not join the demonstrations in her city for fear of being arrested again.

However, her prison experience gave Ishraka “more strength, will and determination and doubled my desire to work and help others” as she put it.

After she was released from prison, her parents sent her to a village in the countryside for her own safety. However, she continued to follow events in Lattakia and visit her hometown until August 2012, when soldiers at regime checkpoints began to run checks on women’s identity cards. She was still a wanted woman.

As the government oppression intensified, Ishraka’s family was forced to join her in the countryside and then travel to Turkey, where they stayed for three months until the opposition took control of a large area of the Lattakia countryside.

“Here began a new stage,” Ishraka recalled. “I started my civil society activities in opposition-controlled areas through workshops I organised to discuss all issues related to women’s rights and transitional justice. These activities were the first of their kind in the region.”

Then she started working with relief and educational organisations such as al-Reef and Haya’at Ilim. Her home became a meeting place for most of the area’s aid workers.

“In addition to my work with civil society organisations, I worked as a secretary with the local council of Duwajrika village in the Lattakia countryside,” Ishraka continued, adding that had won her job in a competition run to select new employees. She was the only woman in the region working within a local council.

Ishraka focused on the implementation of several projects, including the reactivation of pumps to secure water in the area and a hygiene project, both of which she described as unique experiences.

She also worked with a team in rural Lattakia to entertain and support children psychologically affected by the war. The team moved between different schools and displacement camps and worked on designing children’s facilities with colours, stories and games. The team also contributed to many activities at the Baraem children’s centre in Bidama village.

Ishraka’s colleague, Omar Haj, said, “The mark she made on the team’s work was clear and she contributed significantly to the project’s success, especially through writing and preparing daily reports, as well as her great help, ideas and ability to deal with children.”

The initiative closest to Ishraka’s heart was her contribution to the opening of a secondary school for girls in al-Kinda, through helping recruit employees and volunteering to work in the administrative staff.

Ishraka had to confront daily obstacles in her determination to take part in these projects.

She described “the absence of the basic necessities for life in the region, like electricity, gas, etc, the constant bombardment by the regime’s forces and the restriction on my work as a woman by the closed conservative community which I live in and which isn’t used to seeing working women”.

Adding to these challenges was the fear of militant factions such as the al-Nusra Front and Islamic State, which restricted the work of civil society activists in general and women in particular.

Like all women in the region, Ishraka was put under pressure to adhere to a strict dress code, and she added, “Moving alone between villages was very difficult for me as a woman amid foreign and extremist incomers, in addition to the unavailability of transportation.”

These challenges also affected the projects, she said.

“The project of working with children is under intense pressure from some militants, because it prevents them from recruiting these children,” Ishraka continued.

Ishraka’s father said that nothing seemed to deter her.

“She has been working since the beginning of the revolution in various fields, mostly in a voluntary capacity. She believes in the revolution and what she suffered when she was arrested only increased her faith in it. All the challenges and threats never stopped her from continuing to work for her country and her people.”

When the regime took control of the village where Ishraka was living, she was forced to return to Turkey where she has lived and worked for the last four years.

There, she continued her activities and initiatives and is now a volunteer with the Aman network for children.

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