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Voices from Syria and the Middle East
- Raising unheard voices to fight violence shares untold stories from women who have escaped conflict. Women affected by violent extremism are survivors, leaders, and activists who need to be heard. In 2016, an all-female film crew set out to connect with them and help to raise their voices online.


Combating Extremism


UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, and Turkey




In 2016, the spread of ISIS’s propaganda online dominated social media feeds of vulnerable communities. ISIS set out a restrictive vision for women and girls across the Middle East and North Africa. Meanwhile Syrian women were escaping violence inside their country and were cut off from their home.

First, we asked 30,000 people across the Middle East about issues that impact women. With over 10,000 women respondents, Voices of the Middle East features one of the largest anonymous digital surveys of women’s voices from across the MENA region to open discussion on critical issues such as education, mobility, and work outside the home.

Survey question, showing agree or disagree scales.Survey results.

To generate greater conversation around these issues and further-amplify the marginalized voices of Arabic speaking women online, an all-female film crew set out in early 2016 to share untold stories from women who have escaped the conflict in Syria.

Old woman, on set, being recorded for the documentary.

The documentary series features stories about Syrian women’s resilience, leadership, independence, and ingenuity to highlight everyday heroines and challenge the perceptions of women and girls across the region. 

Working with our partner, Small Media, we built a platform for people across the MENA region to share their views on access to education, mobility, and work for women. The digital experience enabled visitors to hear directly from Syrian women about their personal experiences — as well as their hopes and vision of a better future for women.

Inline video player, showing sample of a interview from the documentary.

With a proven methodology that is fully scalable, the platform concept can be customized for a number of interventions around the world where there are communities at risk of violent extremism.

In less than a month Voices of the Middle East generated a community of over 60,000 people discussing issues that impact women across the Middle East and North Africa.

90MSocial Media Impressions
500,000+Platform participants

Results from this project have generated insights into how new forms of media engagement can deeply impact, and counter, recruitment for violent extremism.

Possible Use Cases

  • Countering online extremism
  • Raising the profile of vulnerable communities