At the age of 12 Rajaa Altalli vowed to stay out of politics after her father was kidnapped by the Syrian security forces and imprisoned for nine years due to his activism against the regime. But when the revolution began in early 2011 and stories of government abuses spread, she felt compelled to suspend her doctoral studies abroad and become an activist. She is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS).
From her base outside Syria, first in the US and now in Turkey, Ms Altalli has documented human rights abuses, raised awareness in the international community, and facilitated Skype meetings between Syrian activists and experts worldwide to help protesters on the ground mobilize effectively. Through CCSDS she is currently involved with a wide network of activists working on different issues inside Syria, including civic media, organizational development, women’s empowerment, and transparency.
Together with Anne Marie Codur, a scholar of strategic nonviolence, Ms. Altalli has researched the challenges of unarmed resistance in Syria, with a special analytical focus on women activists’ opportunities and challenges.
80% of people in the refugee camps are women and children.