Women’s movement in Rojava grows stronger despite occupation

ANF correspondent Nesrin Deniz spoke in Qamishlo with Hîva Erebo from the Executive Council of Kongreya Star, the umbrella organisation of the Kurdish women’s movement in Rojava, about the developments of the women’s movement in North and East Syria in the past year. The activist reports that the women’s movement has been working to maintain the resistance of the population, especially after the Turkish invasion of Afrin, and is committed to the return of the displaced population. The women’s movement has been able to expand its organizational structures in all areas of society.

Campaign for organization

“In 2019, activities were taking place all over North and East Syria under the slogan ‘Women should not remain unorganised’. In the first three months, events, seminars and actions were held with a focus on self-knowledge of female identity. This also included the fight against the denial of women and, with broad activities, the fight against violence against women”, Erebo tells looking back.

“We were in contact with women’s organisations and institutions throughout Syria. We have held many congresses, conferences, panel discussions and workshops for women’s self-organisation in the most diverse places. Our goal is to organize all women. That is why we have developed the organization in communes and councils. Activities have been carried out that promote social organisation and especially women’s organisation in villages, communes and towns. Within this framework seminars were held against the patriarchal mentality and the politics of violence against women.”

After the liberation of places like Tabqa, Raqqa, Manbij and Deir ez-Zor from the rule of the terrorist militia “Islamic State” (ISIS), Kongreya Star started its work as the Council of Women of North and East Syria and the Council of Women of Syria with the aim of organizing all women in Syria. This was an important step towards solving the problems of all women and their organization.

Educational Work

“Important work has also been done in the field of education. Thousands of women have been trained in the academies. Education for men represented a new step in various regions. Our educational programmes and plans will continue in this sense in the future”, Erebo announced.

Self-defence is developing strongly

There have also been activities to organise women’s self-defense. In 2019, women’s self-defense activities that were directed against domestic violence are just as important as those against attacks from outside, reports Hîva Erebo. “In this way it became clear that violence against women can be reduced. In the last two months, the women have taken up their positions and defended the region against the attacks. This played an important role in raising awareness. Especially the presence of the YPJ in the region gives a lot of strength and creates faith and trust in women. The women also play an important role in the security forces and in self-defense. This gives the women self-confidence. That’s why more and more women want to participate in self-defense.”

Diplomatic activities worldwide

Erebo mentions that Kongreya Star has established contacts with a number of women’s organisations worldwide over the past year and has thus been able to make the role of women in the Rojava resistance and the women’s revolution better known around the globe. Through these diplomatic activities, initiatives under the motto “Women defend Rojava” were founded in about 30 countries.

Economic developments

“As Kongreya Star we want to develop the basics of co-existence with an understanding of social economy. In 2019 we have established 32 new women’s cooperatives, mainly in the agricultural sector. Of course, these are only a few. The attacks have a particularly negative impact on our economic work. Especially in the last two months, the occupation of Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ain) and Girê Spî (Tal Abyad) caused great damage to the economic work developed there. Many cooperatives were destroyed, the people had to flee and their fields lie fallow”, Erebo reports.

The umbrella organisation is also trying to involve in its economic activities those women who have lost their partners or relatives in the war and are now forced to support their families alone.

Displaced women

“In recent times, almost 300,000 people have been displaced from Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê alone. In recent months we have been working especially for the displaced women and children. In the near future, we’ll focus more on the problems of the economy, education and society.”

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