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International Women's Day

In celebration of the International Women's  Day, the Syria Times Online publishes the following landmark speech by the late President, Hafez Al-Assad:

Speech Delivered by H.E President Hafez Al Assad on 8.3.1989 Commemorating the 26th Anniversary of the 8th of March Revolution and Opening the 5th General Conference of Women Union

 Comrade members of the conference,

 Ladies and gentlemen,

 With great pleasure I salute you and warmly welcome the delegations who responded to the invitation. I wish all the members a good and pleasant stay in our country. I am also pleased that the opening of this conference coincides with the 26th anniversary of the March revolution. This synchronization symbolizes the unbreakable bond between the revolution and the rising movement of women.

 The greatest development achieved by women in Syria was an outcome of the women struggle and in response to the support their struggle received from the party leadership and state under the 8th of March revolution. This response emanated from the thought and conviction of the revolution that women constitute a pillar of life and society and no life or progress is possible without them. Women are the second essential part of society and we should elevate them to create the opportune circumstances to make them fully involved in society.

 There are clear and precise stipulations enjoined in the constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic which are based on logical grounds taking into account the human, moral, and national dimensions which converge on an inevitable interrelation between men rights and women rights.


Men and women constitute a solid cornerstone in life and society, but being unfair to either of them would prejudice society. Within this vision, legislations were enacted and decisions were made that enabled women to find their niche in society.

 Having been a victim of illiteracy, women in Syria today actively contribute to eradicate illiteracy and became productive and able to provide for themselves and the family too.

 Women presence is evident as members in party leaderships, popular organizations, people`s assembly, premiership, councils of local administrations at all levels in addition to being involved in military work and practicing professionally in medicine, pharmacology, law, administrative and diplomatic fields and in the upper echelons of courts and education.

 Heroism of the Arab women was transparently manifested in resisting aggression and occupation in Golan, southern Lebanon and Palestine. Names of martyr women were brightly scintillating the sky. The track pursued by martyr Hamida Altaher and her comrades were illuminating beacons of probity and honor.

 We glorify the martyrdom of women and men and follow their footsteps and take them as our role model because they embraced the path of honor, dignity and victory.

  National tasks require us to rally our potentials and capabilities which would certainly lead the way for women to be an effective participant in accomplishing these tasks.

 Syria is grappling with multifarious struggle, a national struggle and a construction and defense struggle. Our widely important goal is that our Arab nation restores its status after jettisoning a legacy of hardships and tribulations left by colonization.

 Owing to its history, location and pioneering posture, it is the destiny of Syria to lead the March after independence in order to liberate itself from the past residues and build the strong and impervious nation and resist the metastasized Zionist perils.

 What has been realized since the beginning of the revolution is something we are proud of with respect to the scientific profusion and technical cadres, economic growth, social betterment and the increase in production and services. Such truth is obvious in all walks of life as in the educational institutions, health sector, factories, natural wealth and agriculture.

 Undoubtedly, our position today is much better with regard to the economic impedimenta, and our economy is robust because we tend to develop our resources constantly. This job makes it incumbent on us to slog feverishly and hone our skills and promote teamwork. We all realize that what affects the country would recoil and every success we accomplish would benefit all.

 We must be determined to strengthen our national unity in tune with the aspirations of our people, and by inculcating the national spirit we create the cooperation spirit among all citizens and the atmosphere of initiative and creativity to lay firm grounds of self sufficiency.

  We still have a lot to do to build the nation and achieve production booms, and enhance our steadfastness and capability to extirpate aggression and occupation. All that would require the reliance on our people and the support of our friends and the assimilation of the general world opinion of our causes. The basis of our stand remains the firm belief in the causes and in our preparedness to defend them.

 Reading modern history elucidates the fact that the colonial powers have been creating obstacles for us with the intent of debilitation and attrition whereby a new problem pops up to make us forget its precedent one so the colonizer would  grab other parts of the Arab land.

 The major preoccupation of our enemy was to make us relegate our history into oblivion especially the prominent chapters and to undermine our victories to depress us and bridle struggle in a bid to let our enemies extract Arab concessions and conceal the Arab rights.

 The Arab Israeli conflict is our mammoth challenge because it is an issue of destiny and survival. The peril it poses and its impact upon the world peace prompted the world to push it to the forefront. When we emphasize that we delve for a solution to this struggle to achieve the just peace in our region, we are definitely serious about it because the just peace imports the termination of aggression and the restoration of the Arab land to its owners, but Israel is still squatting on the land and denying the rights.  

 Israel raped Palestine and ravenously desires to trespass on the biggest parts of the Arab nation to achieve the so called `greater Israel` from the Nile to the Euphrates. Because Zionism views this target as a sacred doctrinal goal, the Israelis do what it takes to realize it till the cows come home.

 Israel has fraudulently convinced the biggest segments of the world public opinion that the Palestinian people and the PLO should discard the national Palestinian covenant that the Palestinian people and all the Arabs aim to dump the Jews into the sea.

  Zionism relies on an indisputable covenant which I already referred to. It reclines to a divine judgment which claims that Allah bestowed the Arab land between the Nile and the Euphrates upon them and HE entrusted the land to the Israelis.

 In 1982 the incumbent prime minister of Israel Yitzhak Shamir, previously foreign minister was on a visit to France, and in reply to a question put to him by a pressman asking him why the Israelis did not mark their borders in their constitution, Shamir replied that the borders of Israel had been marked thousands of years ago by a covenant the Lord had struck with them.

 I myself would say that Allah is infallibly very much beyond reproach and  Allah is for all, and I would say again that HE created all of us, but has HE willed to give our land to the Israelis, HE would have done so since the beginning of creation. HE could have created us on another land to preserve the Israelis presumed land.

 We talk about the just peace which hinges on the implementation of the relative UN resolutions through an international conference with the participation of the concerned parties including the PLO, while Israel continues to adapt an adamant attitude insisting that what it gulped by force becomes its right and whoever wished to negotiate this issue should accept it as fait accompli.

 Israel based its policy on armament and resorted to force to achieve goals by terrorization and the perpetration of killing and destruction. It cannot withstand an Arab outcry from the occupied land saying NO to occupation, but retorts to a stone thrower with bullets, lethal gas, tanks, house demolition, uprooting trees, forestry arson and expropriations. How could we visualize that it would retreat and cede a land it claims a Torah right.

 We reassure our brothers in Palestine that we are with you in your struggle and martyrdom clinging to rights and refusing capitulation and liquidation of your cause.

 Our brothers in Palestine, southern Lebanon and the Syrian brothers in Golan,

 It is of great prominence that we have the clear vision and stamina, and let the road become circuitous, bumpy and long not only before for us but more rugged before the enemy too. The genuine arbiter realizes that the final heat is ours because right is might.


 The Arab track to peace is by being strong and unified in stand and action, but unfortunately, the current Arab stand reminds us of the Arab status in Andalusia when the Arabs fought each other and some of them sought support from enemies the thing that ultimately culminated in the demise and decadence of one kingdom after another.

 Unity is not a circumstantial issue nor a tactical or a seasonal one. Our belief in the Arab unity is both unshakable and profound as we view this unity as life buoyant exigency. These are the norms of life that were not created by nations but set nations right.

 In view of the civilized life pattern, some of the nations have realized that they are not able to defend themselves single handedly in spite of the progress and development they made so they embarked on unification for the sake of fortification. These are the western nations; civilized and great, different languages, different history and origins, animosities, wars and bloodshed, have bent on unification and moved with wide strides to achieve a unified European political entity.

  Where do we stand? We are the one nation of one language, one history and destiny. All we have in common should bring us closer together instead of keeping us apart from each other. All the differences of the European nations have been swept under the carpet to open up to a promising future and ensure their people`s dignity and aspirations.


 Ladies and gentlemen,

 The suffering of Lebanon is contagious to us because what brings us together is so great and such brotherly bonds prompt our concerns in Lebanon. Our efforts to succor Lebanon in the past years were not driven by acquisitions but by national dimensions and benefits for Lebanon, Syria and the Arab nation.

 I would like to reiterate that Syria will remain on the side of Lebanon in thick and thin and will not debrother Lebanon because it is next of kin. Nobody feels the agony Lebanon is undergoing as much as the Syrian people and none is able to sacrifice for the sake of Lebanon as much as the Syrian people.

 The world today is undergoing a state of metamorphosis in the international relations heading towards an international agreement built on understanding instead of confrontation. This phase has been originated by the peaceful initiative of the Soviet Union with the intent of eliminating a nuclear catastrophe and whittling down bankrolling on arms race where millions of people are famishing in many parts of the world.

 Our relations with the Soviet Union pivot on mutual respect and benefits on   grounds of friendship and cooperation. We look for the best relations with every country which is based on the same grounds of mutual respect and benefits.

 I wish this conference much success and progress in support of the Arab women to enhance the role of the general union of women regionally and internationally.  

According to Prof. Tim Anderson, the Global Research, March 09, 2016, oOn International Women’s Day – The Syrian Arab Republic – the only genuinely pluralist nation in the region – was the first country in the Middle East and North African region (MENA) to give women the vote (1949, 1953) and the second after Lebanon to allow women to stand for election (1953). Syria was the first to have a woman elected to parliament (1973).

Syria has by far the highest level of paid maternity leave in the MENA region – a minimum of 17 weeks paid leave, 100% paid by employers. Employers must also pay a minimum of 6 weeks paternity leave, also at 100%. Although one of the poorer MENA countries, the Syrian Arab Republic has a maternal mortality rate (per 1000,000 live births) of 46 in 2008, well below the MENA average (91); that is linked to skilled assistance at birth much higher than average (93% Syria / 79% MENA). In overall HDI-GNI, which measures effective use of resources for human development,

Syria is way out in front, on 29. All other MENA countries (except Libya, data not available) have negative figures, meaning their income is not well transferred into human development (education and health). In Syria, life expectancy and infant mortality are better than its income levels would suggest, inequality is lower than average and ‘women’s health adjusted life expectancy’ is the best in the MENA region (Sources: UNDP 2014; UN Women 2011).


Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

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