Daraa recruits female first responders to assuage patriarchal concerns

In the first training of its kind inside Syria, the Civil Defense in rebel-controlled parts of Daraa province graduated 15 female volunteers late last month.

The Civil Defense, active throughout rebel controlled-Syria, is the first-responder network that arrives at the scene following air raids, ground attacks and barrel bomb drops on civilians.

The training in Daraa included practice drills on evacuating victims and emergency first aid as well as how to run educational campaigns around issues such as unexploded ordnance and hygiene.

Muhammed Adeeb, a Civil Defense spokesman in western Daraa, tells Syria Direct’s Yaman Yosif that the conservative nature of Syria’s southern province makes female trainers a necessity.

“It became necessary for us to include women … a member of the household might refuse to let males treat his wife or daughter.”

Q: Why did the Civil Defense start including women in their first responder training?

The most important reason is that the community in Daraa is a conservative one, so it became necessary for us to include women in the Civil Defense teams to help in cases where women were injured in their homes. Another member of the household might refuse to let males treat his wife or daughter.

Additionally, it is important we have female volunteers to help with our campaigns to raise awareness about health and medical issues.

Q: Are there any policies or rules for their work?

Traditions and cultures have an effect on any work, especially if it involves going into people’s houses and working with a family where there are girls and women. Many instances have required women to be part of the evacuation team.

There are no rules limiting the scope of the work of our female Civil Defense volunteers. They are part of the Civil Defense team. We do not put any restrictions on their work. However, on the ground, some families may impose restrictions, as they might not be accustomed to female emergency rescue workers.

We are very proud of all of our female volunteers in Daraa’s Civil Defense.

Yaman Yosif

Yaman is from Daraa. He studied English Literature until 2010 and taught English in the war college in Homs unitel the revolution began in Syria. He came to Jordan in 2012 and worked in translation at the Philadelphia Center in Amman. He escorted foreign journalists to Syria refugee camps inside Jordan and served as an interpreter.

James Bowker

James Bowker graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a double major in Arabic Language & Middle Eastern Studies. He has previously worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) study-abroad program and as a remote translator for the Article 25 Right to Health campaign.