- Published: Tuesday, 14 April 2020 17:37
- Written by Rohash Shexo
Kongra Star women’s movement started its work in 2005 organising women in Rojava and Syria. It seeks to develop a free Rojava, a democratic Syria, and a democratic Middle East by promoting women’s freedom and the concept of Democratic Nation. Under the Ba’ath regime they were organised in clandestine and faced many difficulties for some time.
The revolution in Rojava which started in 2012 has to be understood as a women's revolution. Kongra Star was central to the social organising during the beginning of the revolution. Since then it has been growing continuously as an institution focusing on all areas of women’s lives including education, culture and arts, economy, self-defence, social affairs, problem-solving and justice, politics, local government, ecology, press and media as well as international relations. With the aim of encouraging women to organise themselves in all areas of society and life, women across the northern areas of Syria began to come together in different towns and villages, to organise themselves.
Within Kongra Star, work is done with grass roots committees, there are for example, committees for social, political, city administration, for ecology, self-defence, justice and other important social areas. With these committees women are organised in all areas of life within communities and councils.
It is important that women now have a system which supports them on all levels. Through the autonomous organisation of women, for example the economic level, thousands of women are now working in economic fields. They are now representing themselves and for the first time the co-chairing system has been established here in the region. This means that in all areas of work and social life there is equal representation of women and men on the basis of a 50% gender quota. This was a new step.
The women's revolution in Rojava became known all over the world mainly through the female fighters of the YPJ - The Women’s Protection Units. In Rojava women organise and defend themselves on all levels. This also means on a military level against physical attacks. Women have participated in the armed struggle since the beginning of the revolution. YPJ was founded in 2013 as a women’s military defence force. According to their principles YPJ carries out legitimate self-defence against all external physical attacks which target the land, society and especially women. Their aim is to build a democratic, decentralised, pluralistic Syria and to achieve women’s liberation fighting against patriarchal mentality and military attacks. That’s why YPJ is fighting at the front-lines as well as educating women intellectually and culturally so women can discover their personalities and contribute to building up a society in which justice, freedom and equality prevail.
But the Revolution and the struggle for women's freedom cannot be achieved by military means alone. The organisation of society on all levels is much more important. This includes press work, economic work, education and much more. Since the Revolution of 2012, media and press work has developed a lot. Under the Ba’ath regime media was censored; while Kurdish media and language was banned in public. Journalists faced arrest or even assassination. With the implementation of democratic self-governance, new media centres and institutions were built up. Women took a leading position, making up 57% of media workers across North and East Syria.
In Rojava we are trying to develop our economic system especially the women’s economy as a social and societal economy. We try to find solutions in order to overcome capitalism, which is spreading worldwide and is the cause of wars and crises. Fulfilling basic human needs is the most important task of the economy. Despite very limited possibilities, we have been able to make important progress in recent years. The work of the cooperatives, especially women's cooperatives, has become increasingly widespread. Most of the 16 cooperatives established so far have been in the agricultural sector. Agriculture and livestock breeding are the traditional economic industries in this region. In addition, there are cooperatives in handicraft and food cooperatives in which hundreds of women work.
With the aim to create new areas of work and income opportunities for women, especially those who live in poverty are included in the creation of cooperatives and thus supported.
Kongra Star tries to create a foundation and the conditions for the development of cooperatives. This means that they organise areas for cultivation, locate suitable places and technical equipment or help in negotiations at the markets. Since in some areas both production and trade cooperatives have been established, they can also influence market prices.
By setting up and working in the cooperatives, the women participate in economic life. In the past this was unthinkable and women were not familiar and had no experience with these areas.
In recent years the most important achievement of women in Rojava is the creation of their own autonomous organisation and with this they determine their own way of working. Since we are in a war situation here, self-defence of women and society is a priority of us. We have seen quite clearly: If we cannot defend ourselves, we have no guarantee of life. Our most important achievement is our awareness of self-defence. Furthermore, women have reached a high political level and play a decisive role in politics. For the first time in history, women from our society are involved at all levels in decision-making processes. They play an active role in diplomatic work and have an important responsibility for shaping the future.
Women have made great leaps in education, in drafting the social contract and rights. Much of what we have fought for and built are achievements that have inspired women in other Middle Eastern countries and around the world: We have succeeded in building unity and solidarity among women. As a result, women have become a strength and have gained self-confidence. This has also been demonstrated in recent years on successive international women’s days on the 8tMarch: The voice of women has become louder! Women here refer to the heritage of women's struggles around the world.
One of the most important topics for the future is the work on and organisation of self-defence. The occupation of Rojava of the Turkish patriarchal state is an ongoing serious threat for us all. The misogynistic mentality of this occupation and its mercenaries threatens the women's revolution - and not only in Rojava.