Rahila Gupta

Amid Death & Despair, A Feminist Revolution Is Happening In Syria



Soza Qamishlo

Ever wondered what it might be like to live through a revolution? A revolution which puts women and young people at the leading edge of change? When society as you know it and all its institutions are turned upside down, virtually overnight, in the pursuit of ideals such as women’s equality or true democracy or environmental protection? Ideals which you may be passionate about but which constantly crash into walls erected by a society which puts profit before people and planet.
There is a revolution going on right now. A feminist revolution, led by women, in Syria of all places – a country of death, destruction, dust and despair, if we are to believe what we see on our TV screens. When I visited Rojava (now the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria) in 2016, all the journalists were heading to the front line. Among the forces that drove ISIS out of Raqqa – a battle of huge significance to the West – were a number of Kurdish women but you would have had to be extremely attentive to the news to notice them fighting alongside the men.
Influenced by the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish freedom struggle, currently imprisoned in Turkey, who believed that “A country can’t be free unless the women are free,” the women of Rojava set about building a society on the principles of democratic confederalism. With President Assad distracted by the rebel uprising in the south of Syria, the Kurds in this northern strip of land, an oppressed minority, were able to proceed with an almost bloodless revolution.
Read more