Women’s liberation is one of the three major pillars of the Kurdish Freedom Movement. The movement sees women as a revolutionary vanguard, because they are best placed to overcome the paradigm of patriarchy, which has given rise to capitalism, the state, environmental extraction and other forms of domination and violence.
From the early days of the movement, the organisers of the PKK reached out to and listened to Kurdish women. Abdullah Öcalan was an outspoken advocate of women’s liberation, even at a time when in gender issues were relegated to “after the revolution” by most socialist movements around the world. However, the women of the KFM still had to fight relentlessly to secure their place as equals within the movement. Thanks to years of struggle of the Kurdish Women’s Movement, the KFM has come far from those early days. The principle of gender liberation is now seen as absolutely non-negotiable, with all positions of leadership shared by a man and a woman, and the right to autonomous organisation giving rise to parallel women’s structures alongside all mixed-gender institutions and organisations. Autonomous women’s structures have the right to veto decisions made by mixed structures, and all issues pertaining to women’s freedom are dealt with only by women.
In the media, this is often reduced to the presence of women-only fighting units such as the YPJ, but in practice the effects of women’s autonomous organising within the movement are wide-reaching and essential. Gender liberation is embedded in all areas of democratic confederalism, from Aboriya Jin (the Women’s Economy Bureau), who support women to set up economic co-operatives, to the Mala Jin (
Women’s Houses) that are responsible for handling social issues that affect women and serve as centres of conflict resolution for the whole community.
Just as the KCK organises the Kurdistan Freedom Movement globally, the parallel Komalên Jinên Kurdistan (KJK) organises the Kurdish Women’s Movement globally.
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