Kurdish Women's Liberation Movement

Abdullah Ocalan, “Liberating Life: Women’s Revolution,” 2013. Downloadable pdf. http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/liberating-Lifefinal.pdf


Canonical text of the Kurdish women’s liberation movement.


Evren Kocabıçak, “Interview with the World’s First Army of Women: YJA-Star,” Signalfire, March 23, 2014.



Why it is essential for women to have their own army in order to achieve equality with men in a guerrilla organization, and why this army is a model for autonomous women’s organizations in other spheres. The struggle of women is a prerequisite to democracy.


Dilar Dirik, “Feminism and the Kurdish Freedom Movement,” April 20, 2015, Kurdish Question. http://kurdishquestion.com/oldarticle.php?aid=feminism-and-the-kurdish-freedom-movement


Because the oppression of women is fundamental to all hierarchical and oppressive systems, including capitalism, the fight for women’s freedom and their autonomous self-organization are fundamental to the struggle for liberation.



Janet Biehl, “The Women’s Revolution in Rojava,” August 27, 2015, Toward Freedom. http://www.towardfreedom.com/38-archives/women/4017-the-women-s-revolution-in-rojava


From its inception in 2011, the Rojava revolution put women’s rights first, outlawing polygamy and forced marriages, criminalizing “honor killings,” and transforming a traditional agricultural society into one where women are moving towards equality.



Rahila Gupta, “The Rojava Papers,” a series of five articles published in openDemocracy in April, 2015: “A Revolution for Our Times: Rojava, Northern Syria,” April 4 2016. https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/revolution-for-our-times-rojava-northern-syria.


The border crossing and contrast between Iraqi Kurdistan and Rojava.


“Rojava’s committment to Jineoloji: the science of women,” April 11 2016. https://www.opendemocracy.net/rahila-gupta/rojava-s-commitment-to-jineoloj-science-of-women


The question of a Kurdish state, women’s academies and male-female co-chairs.

“Rojava revolution: it’s raining women,” April 26 2016.



Kongreya Star, the umbrella women’s organization, drawing women into political life.

"Rojava revolution: reshaping masculinity,” May 9 2016.



The struggle to overturn traditional ideas of masculinity and women’s place.


“Rojava revolution: on the hoof,” May 23 2016. 


Economics: Setting up women’s cooperatives, dealing with Rojava’s oil.

"Rojava revolution: how deep is the change?" June 20 2016. https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-how-deep-is-change


Are political differences being worked through or buried? And what about sex?


Gültan Kişanak, interviewed by Nadje al-Ali and Latif Tas, “Kurdish women’s battle continues against state and patriarchy, says first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir,” August 2, 2016, openDemocracy.


A germinal interview with a leader in the Kurdish women’s movement and HDP, covering her time in jail and the struggle to make local HDP leaders responsive to women’s leadership. Since this interview, Kişanak was prosecuted, along with most other HDP leaders, and sentenced to fourteen years in prison for “aiding terrorism.”

Meredith Tax, “When Women Fight ISIS.” August 18, 2016, New York Times.


While militaries often target women in wartime, as a way of symbolically defiling and disrupting a culture, Kurdish female guerrillas have become empowered through actively taking up self-defense and defense of other women from ISIS, particularly the Yazidis.


Benedetto Argentieri, “No time for love, children, 'desires': meet the female Kurdish freedom fighters,” August 30, 2017, Sydney Morning Herald.


Interviews with women guerillas who have devoted their lives entirely to the struggle.


Dilar Dirik, “Feminist Pacifism or Passive-ism?” March 7, 2017, openDemocracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dilar-dirik/feminist-pacifism-or-passive-ism


Resistance is central to the Kurdish women’s liberation movement and the pacifism of liberal feminists fails to distinguish between state militarism and legitimate self-defence, based on social justice, communal ethics, and women’s autonomy.


Joost Jongerden, “Gender equality and radical democracy: Contractions and conflicts in relation to the ‘new paradigm’ within the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK),” 2017.

Downloadable pdf at https://journals.openedition.org/anatoli/618


The paradigm change from the goal of a national state to democratic confederalism and autonomy within the PKK and affiliated Kurdish liberation organizations was closely connected with the increasing leadership of women in the party. These questions led to a split in 2004, in which the new paradigm and women emerged victorious.


Lava Selo, “Women’s Rights in Rojava: Perceptions Believed and Realities Yet To Be Achieved,” July 2018, Heinrich Boll Stiftung.



A skeptical researcher interviews 27 women in Rojava to find out how much their equality is real and how much is aspirational. Lots of data on organizational structures and the challenges faced by those trying to change traditional behavior.


Anya Briy and Mahir Kurtay interviewing  Ayşe Gökkan and Gülcihan Şimşek, “Interview with the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in North Kurdistan,” October 23, 2018, openDemocracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/north-africa-west-asia/interview-with-free-women-s/


An interview with TJA-KJA representatives in Diyarbakir. The Free Women’s Congress (KJA) was established in 2015 as an umbrella for various women’s initiatives, as well as political parties, NGO’s, culture and faith groups, and local governments.


Richard Hall, ‘Welcome to Jinwar, a women-only village in Syria that wants to smash the patriarchy.” December 2, 2018, Independent. 


A village in Rojava built by and inhabited only by women, many of them war widows, others who want to live an independent life free of man.


Anya Briy, interviewing B.E., “The theory and practice of the Kurdish Women’s Movement,” January 3, 2019, openDemocracy.


An interview with an editor of the Jineoloji Journal in Diyarbakir about theoretical and practical activities of the Kurdish women’s movement in Turkey. The journal is one of the few remaining initiatives by the Kurdish movement that have not been shut down in the wake of the 2015-2016 military offensive by the Turkish state on predominantly Kurdish cities or otherwise repressed since the 2016 failed coup attempt.



Meral Zin Cicek, interview, “The Women’s Revolution in the 21st Century: From Solidarity to Common Struggle,” March 13, 2019, Komun Academy.



A call to raise the level of unity in the global women’s liberation movement and also its organizational capacity, so that its solidarity will become more than emotional support.