(WOMENSENEWS)--As the international community prepares to gather on Jan. 20 with members of the Syrian regime and the opposition in Geneva, for preliminary talks to tame the conflict, a group of Syrian women is demanding to have their voice heard at the peace talks.
The Syrian women, who attended a two-day conference in Geneva last week, issued a joint statement asking for a constitution that guarantees the rights of equal citizenship to the Syrian people "in all their diversity and affiliations." The women also demanded the adoption of various gender-based policies, such as protecting women and girls against sexual exploitation, early marriage, human trafficking and rape, Al Jazeera English reported.
Women's rights are losing ground in Syria and it is no surprise. The war-torn country is more divided than ever, with the current regime headed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on one side and several groups of opposition, some of which are led by al-Qaida, on the other.
Women and girls have paid a high price in this conflict that has resulted in the spread of extremism. It is getting worse by the day, according to reports from inside the country.
While women under al-Assad's rule enjoyed freedoms and relative rights, those rights recently have been dealt a setback in opposition-held areas of the country where al-Qaida militants have taken over, The Associated Press reported.
Human Rights Watch said in a Jan. 13 report that some extremist Islamist groups in northern Syria, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, and the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, are imposing strict and discriminatory rules on women and girls. They require women to wear headscarves and full-length robes, which have no basis in Syrian law, and limit their ability to carry out essential daily activities, move freely in public or to attend school, the human rights group reported.
Desperate, Syrian women flee the violence and take refuge in neighboring countries.
In this video, Women's eNews interviews Ghuroob, 33, who left the Syrian town of Homs after she lost her husband in a shelling last year. Women's eNews met Ghuroob, who asked to only use her first name, in Mafraq, northern Jordan.
Her husband was fighting with the Free Syrian Army, the first opposition group formed after the start of the uprisings. While her husband was fighting, she helped the fighters in their everyday needs, from cooking to washing their clothes to distributing medicine.
Ghuroob entered Jordan in February 2013 with her four children.
Syrian Women's Lives in Jordan: Syrian Refugee Widow Recalls Living With War (2/3)
This story was produced by Women's eNews' three-person multi-media team, led by Dominique Soguel. Videos were produced and translated by Hajer Naili and Touline Habake. This special project, Collateral Damage Syria: Women and Girls Fleeing Violence, was funded by a group of private donors and contributors to the Women's eNews Catapult online campaign.