Media Activism Amid Civil War: The Role of Syrian Women Journalists
Wednesday, June 29
1:30 – 2:45 pm
The Middle East Institute
1761 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Syrian citizen-journalists, bloggers, and media activists have played a critical role covering one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts. They do so in the face of significant challenges – from fear for their safety, to overcoming international indifference to the story of an unending conflict.
Women journalists face even greater challenges and yet many continue to work in the field. Non-profit initiatives like the Syrian Female Journalists’ Network are providing training and support while promoting a better understanding of the important role of women in the Syrian uprising.
The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host the founders of the Syrian Female Journalists Network, Rula Asad and Milia Eidmouni, and radio journalist Caroline Ayoub for a discussion of their work in promoting the roles of Syrian women in journalism and civil society.
Kate Seelye will moderate the discussion with the activists, who are visiting Washington as part of an Asfari Foundation-backed program to highlight the ongoing role of Syrian civil society.
Co-founder and Executive Director, Syrian Female Journalists’ Network
Rula Asad is a co-founder and the executive director of the Syrian Female Journalists’ Network (SFJN). Founded in 2012, the SFJN is a non-profit initiative that trains Syrian female journalists and promotes their role in the region’s media. In her current work at SFJN, Asad’s main focus is to promote a more gender-balanced approach to local Syrian media, empowering Syrian female media professionals, and training local citizen journalists on gender sensitive reporting. She was born in 1983 in Damascus and holds a degree in journalism from the University of Damascus. She is a freelance journalist and previously reported on women and human rights, as well as culture and civil society’s issues from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Additionally, Asad has worked as a reporter for Deutsche Welle, Germany and Radio Netherlands among other media outlets. She is currently based in the Netherlands.
Co-founder and Project Manager, SouriaLi [My Syria] Radio
Caroline Ayoub is a co-founder and project manager of SouriaLi [My Syria] Radio launched in 2012. SouriaLi is an independent, nonprofit, grassroots online broadcaster dedicated to working with the Syrian people in promoting civil society, active citizenship, freedom of expression, and women’s empowerment. In 2012, Ayoub was arrested in Damascus for her nonviolent activism against the regime. She fled the country that same year after being released from detention. Currently based in France, she has a Master’s degree from the Human Rights and Human Action Department in the School of Law and Political Science at Aix-Marseilles University.
Journalist and Co-Founder, Syrian Female Journalists’ Network
Milia Eidmouni is a freelance journalist who left Damascus for Jordan in 2013 due to political pressure. She contributes to several Syrian publications and international magazines, with a focus on women’s rights in situations of armed conflict. In 2012 she co-founded the the Syrian Female Journalists’ Network, a non-profit initiative that trains Syrian female journalists and promotes their role in the region’s media. Eidmouni is certified as both a media trainer and trainer on gender based violence in the United Nation Populations Fund Y-Peer Network. She has been a leading participant in several workshops and conferences related to women’s rights and gender based violence, and been active in both international and national processes to promote gender justice and women’s participation in the political process in Syria. She is an expert in the field of media gender and refugee issues. She was awarded two bachelor’s degrees, in media studies and philosophy, by Damascus University in 2007.
Kate Seelye (moderator)
Senior Vice President, The Middle East Institute
Kate Seelye is senior vice president of the Middle East Institute (MEI), where she oversees communications, outreach, and programs, including the institution’s growing arts and culture program. She also serves on the board of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University. Prior to joining MEI in 2009, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world from 2000-2009 from her base in Beirut, Lebanon. She reported on the region for National Public Radio, the PRI/BBC show, “The World,” PBS TV’s “Frontline/World” documentary program, and the renowned Channel Four British investigative television news series, “Unreported World.”