Kurdish Women Struggle for a Next System in Rojava

Ruken Isik explores what women are doing in Rojava, Northern Syria.

how do Kurdish women join the fight against ISIS in such numbers, and why are women on the forefront of the struggle? What is the history behind this remarkable departure from the norm, and what can advocates for systemic change and feminism learn from Rojava?

the struggle is also against male domination within the Kurdish community and in the larger Middle East. The achievement of gender equality is one of the most important aspects of the ongoing struggle in Rojava, and an unprecedented example in the Middle East.

“The level of woman’s freedom and equality determines the freedom and equality of all sections of society”

democratisation of woman is decisive for the permanent establishment of democracy and secularism.”

Quotes from Abdullah Öcalan, founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party

In a recent article, academic and writer Nazan Ustundag (2016) summarizes Öcalan’s ideas on modernity and the need to decentralize power:

“For Öcalan, any society needs to fulfill the functions of nourishment, reproduction, and self-defense in order to survive. However, during the formation of capitalist modernity, state, capitalist classes, and men confiscated the means of nourishment (i.e., production), reproduction (i.e., care), and defense (i.e., violence) from society, the poor, and women.”

The change underway in the autonomous Kurdish regions of Syria should not be perceived just as a shift of powers from the control of one government or ethnicity to another, but as a social transformation, one which is enabling minorities to have a say, and a share in the dynamics of power as a more equal society is constructed.

War is a culture against women.

“I told them I am hopeful because I do not see myself just one woman. One part of me is woman in Afghanistan, the other Pakistan, German, Persian, Arab, Turkish. I told them all women in the world are with me when I fight against these brutal men.

From author’s interview with Meryem Kobani (YPJ)

“We, as women, need to break the mentality that controls women. We need to know ourselves, know our agency, our strength, we need to protect ourselves.”

From author’s interview with Roza Haseke (YPJ)





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