Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

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What the WELDD training meant to me

Randa Bashlah is a 26 year old Syrian woman living in Cairo. Randa attended the WELDD political participation training held in Cairo in December 2013. These were her reflections on the workshop.

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I've always felt that I have an inside voice which guides me and opens my eyes to the kind of things that many other women feel nothing towards and just cope with. I was born in a country which suffers from a hierarchical authority. What makes this worse is that the women inside it are often part of that; they remain neutral or, even worse, support this authority. As women are an integral part in the dilemma, their negativity towards being subjected by men is perhaps the worst part of the equation. 

Being raised in a family that could be described as relatively “open minded” in a patriarchal society, I was able to see and feel the pain of many women around me who don’t have such a privilege as mine. On the other side I always felt responsible for opening their eyes to that reality. The chance to participate in the WELDD workshop wasn't merely a coincidence as it might seem. I've always known that I’ll find an entry into women’s activism; I just never imagined that it would be so magnificent!

I always had many thoughts and questions in my mind about what makes a woman so vulnerable. Is that how she’s supposed to be or is there a universal conspiracy against her? Although my thoughts were on a narrow domestic level, I had that inner eagerness to know more and find people who have similar voices inside them. The chance of being among a group of international women’s rights activists was more than I needed to know where and how to start. 

From the very first minute of the training I felt home. I realized that women together are incredibly strong. They’re able to change any situation whatsoever. They have great passion, sympathy, transparency and many other characters that make them strong enough to defeat any masculine weapon. 

Throughout the training I heard activists’ stories of how Islam has been politicized to entrench power and force undesired practices on normal people. I related this to processes happening in Syria now, and realised we need to learn from the histories of other countries’ struggles. The more we talked, the more I saw that our situations, although different, have many similarities.The WELDD training was a turning point for me. My feeling of responsibility to make change has to take different forms now; stronger and more organized ones.


Political and Public Participation