November 21, 2019
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


The Middle East Institute
1763 N Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

The Middle East Institute is pleased to host a public event featuring a panel of influential Syrian women, which will focus on the important role of women within Syrian civil society and in local and international initiatives aimed at shaping a better future for Syria. The panel will focus particularly on the contributions made by women in Syria’s ongoing political processes, including the nascent Geneva negotiation track, as well as in the recently UN-convened Constitutional Committee.

Please join panelists Rafif Jouejati, Jomana Qaddour and Sarah Hunaidi, along with moderator Charles Lister for an important and timely discussion on the role of women, at home and abroad, amid conflict and a continuing search for peace and justice in Syria.

Speaker Biographies: 

Sarah Hunaidi is a Syrian writer, feminist, human rights activist, and member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement. She writes and publishes in both English and Arabic in prominent media outlets like Foreign Policy, The Independent, the New Arab, among others. She appears regularly on the BBC, AlJazeera English, and NPR to comment on political and cultural events in the Middle East. Her work has been reported by NPR, Al-Jazeera, al-Hurra, and various other Arabic and International media platforms. After her exile from Syria in 2014 due to her opposition to the Syrian regime, she started working on her first book project about the missing activist Samira al-Khalil, exploring exile, siege, and survival.

Rafif Jouejati is the co-founder and Director of FREE-Syria. A management consultant by profession, she joined the Syrian revolution in 2011. She is involved with several organizations, such as the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC), The Day After Project, and Baytna-Syria. Rafif is also active in the Syrian women’s movement and advanced a charter demanding 50% representation of women in every aspect of Syria’s governance. She upholds a commitment to women’s equality as an integral part of human rights.

Jomana Qaddour is a doctoral student at Georgetown University Law Center, focusing on ethno-sectarian political identities and their impact on constitutional frameworks in Syria, Iraq, and Bosnia. She is a member of the UN-launched Syrian constitutional committee as part of the civil society group. She is also a co-founder of Syria Relief & Development, a humanitarian organization that has provided over $75 million worth of aid in Syria and the region. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, an umbrella organization of 10 Syrian American humanitarian organizations. Until July 2018, she was a Senior Policy Analyst at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom where she covered Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey. Prior to that, she was a Senior Analyst at Caerus Associates, where she managed the Syria atmospherics project for USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives. Jomana also served as a Senior Research Assistant for the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where she focused on Syria, Egypt, Palestinian politics, and Islamist movements. Jomana is a 2019 Truman Nation Security Fellow as well as a 2019 Center for New American Security Next Generation Fellow. She received her J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law and her L.L.M. from Georgetown University

Charles Lister (moderator) is a senior fellow and Director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria, including as a member of the MEI-convened Syria Study Group; and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to this, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, where he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups.