Gender, empowerment and Syrian refugee women in the Netherlands

International Institute of Social Studies
Start date

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2019, 13:00

End date

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2019, 14:00

Room 1.31
International Institute of Social Studies
Spoken Language

In this migration seminar we are pleased to host two alumni of the International Institute of Social Studies who both produced excellent Research Papers on the theme of Syrian Refugee Women in the Netherlands.

Gender in crisis: Syrian refugee women in the Netherlands

by Rajin Alqallih-van der Zijde 

Gender in our lives is like the air. It surrounds us, we breathe it, but we do not necessarily think of it or visualize it. We construct and reconstruct gendered identities and views in our everyday social interactions which change as our circumstances change.

Gender identities and roles of Syrians have been influenced in different ways by the current war in Syria. The current war, which commenced in 2011, has left a noticeable impact on the Syrian society and the life of every Syrian; whether women or men, children or adults, inside or outside of Syria. This impact has touched all aspects of life from politics to the bread we eat. Syrian women displaced outside of Syria have experienced in some way or another changes in their gender identities and roles.

This research paper shed light on some of these changes through the experiences of Syrian women mainly living in the Netherlands, where the research in preparation for this paper took place. The research took the form of individual interviews, observation and group discussions.

Theoretical concepts of gender, public/private, patriarchy, and intersectionality were used as tools to analyse the experiences of female Syrian women refugees.

Emerging “Voices of Syria”: Syrian Refugee Women in the Netherlands

by Shucheesmita Simonti

This study attempts to examine the lives of Syrian refugee women, in light of their conflict-induced displacement and settlement in the Netherlands. The study suggests that from the moment of leaving Syria till settling in the Netherlands, there have been significant changes in the lives of the Syrian women, with regard to their gender roles and agency.

Being Syrian women and a refugees, they have experienced empowerment and disempowerment simultaneously. Given the complexities experienced as a refugee woman, participating in different NGO activities is important for some as it enables them to empower themselves as well as contribute to the cause of Syrian refugees by crushing stereotypes and by sharing their stories. In this process, many of the women find themselves becoming the “Voices of Syria”.

Main research question and concepts

The main research question of this study is: 'How has conflict-induced displacement from Syria and settlement in the Netherlands impacted the agency and empowerment of Syrian refugee women?' The purpose of this study is to explore the intersectional dynamics of empowerment and agency of the Syrian refugee women living in the Netherlands.

The study uses concepts of gender, intersectionality, generational relations, agency and empowerment in order to answer the research question. The main research methods adopted are semi-structured interviews and ethnography.

This seminar will provide a platform for a discussion of the similarities and differences in the findings of both Research Papers (RP). It is especially interesting for ISS students who are completing, or contemplating writing, their RPs on migration issues.

About the speakers

  • Rajin Alqallih-van der Zijde

    Rajin Alqallih-van der Zijde is a programme lead on Iraq at PAX. She previously worked for UNHCR in Damascus (Syria), Khartoum (Sudan) and the Netherlands.

  • Shucheesmita Simonti

    Shucheesmita Simonti  completed an MA in Development Studies with at Major in Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies: Social Justice Perspectives at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    Her passion includes migration and gender, peace-building, inter-faith dialogues, women's empowerment and human rights. She is one of the Women Deliver Young Leaders (2018).She was a participant of the Young Feminist Summer Camp organized by the European Women’s Lobby.

    In the past, she has researched gender-based violence experienced by Rohingya refugee women. At present, she is working as a Project Officer at the Bangladesh Workgroup at the Hague Peace Project.

More information

This event is part of the ISS Migration Seminar Series.

This seminar series is a programme of informal seminar sessions which discuss cutting-edge research on a range of issues within the broad theme of migration.

Please contact Cathy Wilcock or Kasia Grabska for more information.