Women and Geneva 2: Hard Decisions

By Sabiha Khalil*
There is no doubt that calls for a Syrian peace process prior to Geneva 2, the international conference on the settlement of the conflict in Syria, created on-going debates among all opposition groups. What is significant about Geneva 2, however, is that some women’s groups are now participating in the debates.

Over the past month the topic of participating in the process was the most controversial among women’s groups. Several points of view emerged, three of which I will discuss here. The first refuses – on principle – to sit for negotiations while Syrian President Assad remains in power. His removal, to them, is a precondition to start any peace process. The second view sees that there may be some kind of participation by women along with opposition groups to strengthen the revolution’s side. The third view sees that women’s participation was basic and essential, and that it should not necessarily be attached to the opposition, since that opposition itself was not united in most major issues except in the denial of women’s rights. Continue reading

The Activist Legacy of Emily Hobhouse

By Eleanor Hobhouse*

As family legend would have it, at the beginning of the 20th century, one of my ancestors (a maiden aunt, affectionately referred to as “that bloody women”) travelled to South Africa and caused a scene. On her death, the South African authorities supposedly requested that she be buried on Table Mountain. According to folklore passed down the generations, in response, my great grandmother allegedly sent her heart. When I decided to trade my summer months for a South African winter, I vowed to fill in the gaping holes in this mysterious narrative. Emily Hobhouse’s story indeed turned out to be quite compelling.

Emily HobhouseA stranger to South Africa, on hearing, in 1900, of the plight of the Boer women, as a result of the Anglo-military campaign in the country, Emily left England and, in her own words, “came…in obedience to the solidarity of our Womanhood…For when Society is shaken to its foundations, then deep calleth unto deep, the underlying oneness of our nature appears, we learn that ‘all the world is kin.” Continue reading