Remarks at the UN Commission on the Status of Women: A Conversation with Syrian Women

Ambassador Lisa Carty
U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
March 23, 2022


Thank you, thank you very much. It’s really just such a pleasure and an honor to be with you today. The very first thing I have to do is give the most sincere regrets from Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. She is very sorry that she is not here. Like our UK colleague said, there are some other matters at the moment that she has had to return to but she did ask me to convey the very directly the respect that she has for the courage and resilience and fortitude for this group and she is certainly with us in spirit.

I would like to say, personally, I am quite new in this role, this is my third day in the ECOSOC Ambassadorial role, but I cannot think of a more important conversation to be apart of. I have worked on Syria related issues over the years and I have to say, I was so touched and moved listening to our three first speakers, and living their experience with them – that will stay with me throughout the course of this week, and beyond as well. Just as few thoughts from our side.

As others have noted, last week marked 11 years since the beginning of the Syrian uprising. And what a tragic time for the Syrian people. And as others have noted, its now a time when we hope, not to see the same type of history repeat itself. But throughout the last decade, Syrian women have been at the forefront of the push for truth, justice, and accountability since the beginning of the revolution. Syrian women have called for full participation, inclusive and good governance, and the rule of law. Syrian women have been on the front lines as first-responders – including some incredible leaders of the White Helmets. And Syrian women have spoken up for women’s rights and provided job opportunities to those in need.

Women must be at the center of any long-term political solution in Syria. Organizations like the Syrian Women’s Political Movement are truly leading the way – laying the groundwork for a just, lasting peace. And we have been pleased to see Special Envoy Pedersen’s engagement with other civil society leaders like the Women’s Advocacy Board.

But colleagues let’s be clear: 11 years of war have disproportionately affected women and girls; disproportionately and tragically. Women are shouldering the burdens of traditional household duties, social and economic pressures, and displacement. And we continue to hear, as so many of my colleagues have noted, these alarming, horrific reports of gender-based violence, in addition to challenges faced by women-headed households, and early and forced marriage. All these forces are impeding women and girls’ access to education and locking them out of opportunities to escape the cycle of poverty. And this is actually a generational crisis, in my view.

The challenges facing Syria – and Syrian women – are immense. That’s what makes the work of organizations like the Syrian Women’s Political Movement so important. This work brings together practitioners and leaders that deliver practical solutions to lift up others. This work has reintegrated formerly detained individuals back into their communities. And this work has helped ensure women’s voices are heard in the formal political negotiations.

The United States is also continuing to step up our efforts to support Syrian women and address the humanitarian needs of millions of people across the region.

As many of you know, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield went to the Turkey-Syria border last year as we worked at the Security Council to secure an extension of the Resolution that enables life-saving humanitarian aid to flow across the Turkish border to Syrians. Nearly one year later, we will need the Council to unanimously vote again to extend and expand the mandate for humanitarian aid to flow into Syria. There is simply no other way to get enough food, water, medicine, and vaccines to millions of Syrians in dire need. We are going to need your help and support to ensure the Security Council gets that done.

The United States also strongly supports efforts through the UN to deliver accountability for the Syrian people. This includes the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry and its efforts to address the Assad regime’s pattern of violations and abuses.

The United States will also continue to proudly lead the world in delivering humanitarian assistance. Our USAID Livelihoods Program furthers resilience and stability in conflict-effected communities. And through USAID’s safe spaces for women and girls, we’ve made reproductive health services available – and provided specialized supplies and training for health staff supporting survivors of gender-based violence.

The United States is also working to ensure justice and accountability for systemic human rights violations in Syria – and the State Department is working to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. This includes, of course, documenting abuses against women and girls.

We know the horrors and burdens of this conflict have disproportionately fallen on Syrian women. We know it is infinitely harder to build than to destroy. We also know just how resilient Syrian women are – and that ultimately, women will pave the path out of this conflict and to a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Thank you.