Syria

'If We Don’t Work, We Don’t Eat': Syrian Women Face Mounting Food Insecurity a Decade into The Conflict, February 2021

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Executive Summary

Ten years ago, the lives of many Syrians changed profoundly as anti-government demonstrations escalated into violent conflict between forces allied to the Government of Syria and armed opposition groups. The resulting humanitarian crisis is one of the worst of our time – 6.7 million Syrians remain internally displaced; an estimated 13 million people are in need and 12.4 million live with food insecurity.

In recent months, the situation has deteriorated even further as the COVID-19 pandemic, mass displacements, natural disaster, economic collapse and ongoing hostilities have combined to create a situation wherein households are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their basic needs, including for food.

Average food prices in Syria increased by 236% in 2020 – and food prices are more than 29 times higher than the five-year pre-crisis average, causing many families to resort to negative coping strategies. This includes eating fewer and/or smaller meals to get by.

Furthermore, due to the loss or reduced capacity of male heads of household to death, injury, disappearance or emigration in search of work, many Syrian women are now the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, bearing the full burden of providing for their families with limited livelihood opportunities. About 22% of Syrian households are now headed by women; this is up from only 4% prior to the conflict. Even in households where the male head of household is working in some capacity, dire economic circumstances have pushed women to find some source of income to help with household expenses. In both cases, women are thrust into the ‘provider’ role in a way that most had not previously experienced.