(Thurayya Al-Hafez Is One of the Pioneers of Women’s Rights and the Liberation Movement in Syria (1911-2000

Thurayya Al Hafez is considered one of the most significant Syrian pioneers. She was born in Damascus 1911, the daughter of the struggler Amin Lutfi Al-Hafez, one of the May 6th martyrs.

She studied in Damascus and worked at school administration, she continued the struggle against the French colonization of Syria (following the example of her father) especially after the arrest of her husband Munir Al-Rayyes in 1939. She led together with her friends and the girls of her generation like Olfa Al Edelbi, Jihan Almosilli, and Sunniya Alayyoubi demonstrations to practice mobilization pressures against the government that was created by the French in order to release her husband and all other national prisoners.

The Social and Womanly Activity:

On the other hand, she has been a pioneering figure to call for the rights of woman, to express herself and her opinions, headed a hundred of women who unveiled their Niqab in a public demonstration in the streets of Damascus. Some university youth students volunteered to protect them in their liberation step. That step paved the way for all women in order to practice their simplest rights and freedom: ‘I was exposed to the enmity of the Reactionary lass which dresses up religion as a cloth, being the first Arabic Syrian woman who went outdoors unveiled together with a hundred women and marched in a demonstration against the Reactionary class who were attacking women with spoiled eggs, musty tomatoes or with silver water unreasonably, only because they were visiting a cinema specialized for women, or because they were cutting their hair short or trimming it, the thing that makes the reactionaries claim that they are assimilating themselves to men.’

Mrs. Thurayya Al-Hafez, in this written section of her book ‘ Alhafizyat’ discloses an important and influential aspect in her social and political life that she has lived in an extremely emotional and humanitarian momentum, the first judgement for it was the patriotic issue both the political and the social dimensions, where woman occupies a significant aspect in her struggle.

She struggled for the right of woman in elections, and she was the first woman nominated herself for the parliamentary elections in 1953, the same year in which the Syrian woman has been granted the right for candidacy and elections. She did that to assure the right of woman to take her political role. Yet, she couldn’t succeed because of the social circumstances which haven’t been ripen well to reach a level that gives trust in women and their capacities.

Throughout her sufferings, and the sufferings of women inside the Syrian masculine society, Thurayaa AL Hafez realized that it is has been necessary to raise women’s awareness, and support the cultural reality in the society on purpose of raising the level of both women’s and men’s awareness, and next the society. Thus, she led the women raising awareness campaign for liberation through the broadcasting talks, lectures, forums, and associations that she has participated in their establishment, some of them were: The Vigilance of the Shamite Woman – Graduates of Women Houses of Teachers – the Literary Arena – National Arab Women University – The Women Cultural Consortium – Sukaynah Literary Forum – The Feminist Literary Forum. These included a lot of prominent women figures at that period, on purpose of introducing woman to her abilities and supporting her so that she can practice her role both in life and society.

The struggler, then, continued her activity throughout her participation in the establishment of another association ‘The House of Orphan Association’ aimed at helping the girls of the martyrs in the French Aggression on the Syrian Parliament, this association afterward continued until 1965 as was mentioned in ( The Syrian Writers) for Marwan Almasri and Muhammad Ali Alwaalani. The number of associations’ students almost reached 400.

In 1946, she opened her literary saloon (The Literary Arena of AL Zahra’a) which was based in the house of Zahra’a Alabed, the wife of the president of the Republic at that time.

Afterwards, she established the libertarian Sakina Forum in 1953. Where, the purpose of the forum was to raise the level of Arts and Literary, developing the literary taste and culture, encouraging the artists and collect and print their art works. Translating what’s important of the western written products into Arabic and what’s important of Arabic into the foreign languages. This is considered one of the most important art works that the passed-away writer Thurayya Al Hafez has done in serving the culture and literature in our country. The activity of the forum continued since established until 1963 where it has been stopped, then Thurayya AL Hafez moved to Egypt with the forum to continue her activity until 1970, then the forum stopped completely. Later that time, she spent a part of her life in Damascus and several other world cities.

Writing and Literature:

Thurayya AL Hafez has left two written books ‘That Happened One Day’; a narrative for stories that have been picked out from her life, or reflect on her national struggling attitudes. As a woman who has a role in the political life and the resistance to colorizer as in the story of ‘Conspiracy against a Mouse’ or the story of ‘Let Someone Fell down from the Top’. And the story of ‘The wish of Ali the Teacher’, in which she highlights the reasons for the establishment of the association of House of Teachers that has been established in 1928, the day where no women associations were found in Damascus except two. The first was established by the French, and the second was established by the Syrian women of ministers and rulers. The second book is: ‘Alhafiziyat’ in which she talks about the important episodes in her life, and she presented it to the Female Mujahid for the sake of Palestine Liberation. The book includes a series of articles that track on the biography of the writer herself throughout a number of attitudes, beginning with the period of separation and her reaction on that, and the activities she used to do, in addition to a long and an interesting talk on her literary saloon through talking about a number of characters that have participated in the lectures and forums of the saloon and recording some funny stances that took place during these forums.

In 2000, Thurayya Al Hafez passed away after a battle she launched together with the girls and sons of her generation, leaving to us behind a big heritage perhaps it would lighten the way on for what she has already started.

Thurayya AL Hafez

  • She was born in Damascus 1911
  • She has got the certificate of the Elementary Teaching Qualification from the House of Women Teachers and worked as a Teacher and Manger.
  • An activist in the movement for National Liberty and Independency.
  • A feminist and social Activist.
  • She has established the first public association, and participated in working with other associations like ‘An Association for Female Sponsorship’, ‘An Association for Soldier Care’, ‘An Association for Milk Drop’, ‘ Association for Arts’ , ‘ and ‘ The National Arab Women Association’.
  • She has also established Sakina Forum in her house.
  • She owns a narrative collection ‘That happened in One day’
  • Al Hafizyyat book in 1979.

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