“We have a great deal to offer each other - why do we spend time discussing only our differences?” so said Houda Alajlani when I met her, speaking of the current chilly US stance towards Syria. We had met through Diana Jabbour, I had asked if I might call her to talk about her work. Houda is a member of the Syrian Parliament and she very kindly invited me to her home where we talked about Syria and its regional and international role, how the ongoing regional problems impact each individual country, and her role as a politician.
She is an electrical engineer by training, the only female graduate in her class, and I was curious to know how and why she had gotten into politics. As a child, she explained, she had always been interested in the news, and from a very young age she was reading newspapers while her friends were reading teen magazines. "Even then I was interested in knowing what was going on - you don’t really choose politics, it’s inside you and it chooses you” she told me.
Her family though not in politics was politically aware, her father was a clothing manufacturer which is where the electrical engineering bit came in. As a child she would visit the plant, fascinated by the machines and how they worked. She believes that her ability in the field of engineering had helped her in politics in that, "you have to be precise and use exact terms and words. When I give a speech I use the only words I need, and logic to carry the point." However she also thinks that regardless of this quality, in general women bring a different perspective to politics and this broadens outlook, stressing that as far as she is concerned there should be no such thing as a gender-specific job saying, “the only thing that counts is ability to do the job”.