Ranna Ibrahim, a delegate at the SNC conference, said she was detained for three days earlier this year for organizing anti-regime protests along with fellow lawyers in the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa. Ibrahim, 31, fled Syria nine months ago after government threats against her intensified. Jahjah left four months ago, amid fears she might be arrested for her role in organizing protests.
Women were active in the uprising from the start.
Last year, human rights lawyer Razan Zaytouni, who went into hiding shortly after the revolt began, was awarded the Anna Politkovskaya Award for risking her life by breaking through the government’s media blackout to report on the brutal crackdown in Syria. The award, named after the slain Russian journalist, is given annually to a woman human rights defender standing up for victims in a conflict zone.
Fadwa Suleiman, a Syrian actress who hails from Assad’s minority sect, took center stage at anti-government protests in the central city of Homs, often giving speeches to inspire the crowds. She fled to Paris earlier this year. Women in the coastal city of Banias often blocked the highway to keep security forces and pro-Assad militiamen away.
Even under four decades of dictatorship by the Assad clan, Syrian women have been more active in public life than many of their sisters in other countries in the Arab world. Assad has a female vice president, and a number of women are Cabinet ministers and lawmakers.
At the start of the SNC conference, Jahjah still had high hopes, encouraged by the 15 percent quota. She said she expected representation to be increase to 30 percent soon.
Fleihan, the writer, said women must become more assertive and claim a bigger share.
‘‘Women do many great jobs in the revolution, so they must get their rights, next to the men, in the fight against the regime,’’ she said.
Associated Press writer Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.