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© Girish Chouhan – istock


has dominated global headlines for more than four years: chemical weapons, terrorism, refugees. It is a seemingly endless crisis. The big question, the one that keeps diplomats awake at night is: how do we make this stop? The answer is not simple. Syria has become a political and moral minefield; aligning and dividing countries across the world. Meanwhile, nine million Syrians are homeless. Many live in neighbouring refugee camps without any sense of belonging or legal employment opportunities, while others choose to risk their life travelling in tiny, dangerous boats to seek asylum in Europe. But let us not forget those who are still living in one of the world’s most complex conflicts. Nadya is from rural Damascus. Like many Syrians, she is highly qualified. Nadya has a degree in philosophy and psychology and a diploma in education. She was also a former headmistress. She could have fled,


but decided to stay. “I was a teacher when the revolution began. My school was bombed so I became an activist. I opened my own children’s centre in Mleha, my hometown.” After her school was attacked, her home was bombed too. Today, Mleha is unliveable. The carcasses of collapsed buildings litter roads and soldiers roam around deserted, hollowed blackened cars. “I lost everything. My family left. But I persevered. I moved to a nearby town and opened an education centre for women. At first, all the teachers were volunteers, but then I got funding and was able to pay their expenses. Now over 80 students are enrolled. They tell me how my centre has given them more control over their lives.” Tamkeen, a UK and EU-funded programme to increase good governance through service delivery in opposition-controlled Syria and is funding Nadya’s education centre. Tamkeen is also helping her re-establish the children’s centre she lost when Mleha was destroyed.

Closing the Gender Gap  
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