Kurdish Women on the Frontline: Between Victimhood, Representation, Political Participation and the Fight Against Terrorism

Begikhani, N. (Organiser)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


In the last 18 months, more particularly since the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Middle East has become the stage of many unprecedented political, military and human tragedies. Since the invasion of Mosul by the ISIS in June 2014 followed by their attack on the Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan Region along with their expansion to Rojava notably Kobane, Kurds in general and Kurdish women in particular, have stood on the frontline against terrorism. By their enduring resistance and their ongoing fight against ISIS jihadists, women in Kurdistan have emerged as the main actors and the symbol of combat against the most notorious terrorist group in recent human history. Despite the capture and enslavement of a large number of Yezidi girls and women by ISIS following the attack on Sinjar, Kurdish women transcended the boundaries of victimhood and played an active role in the fight against violence and oppression. Their mobilisation on the battlefield was combined by their struggle at home and inside their communities in the face of patriarchy and gender-based violence. From Kobane to Diyarbekir, from Erbil to Sinjar and Sulaimani, from Sannadaj to Mahabad, they have been on the frontline against state violence, terrorist attacks and communal discrimination and injustice. To what extent has the struggle of Kurdish women led to their liberation and equality in rights? What impact has that struggle had on the national and international reflection on women’s roles? What is the feminist approach towards Kurdish women’s mode of resistance? What challenges have Kurdish women faced in their long national and communal struggle? How to overcome the challenges faced in a world characterised by new forms of real and virtual violence? Along with the conference, there will be an exhibition by and on Yezidi women entitled “Through the Eyes of Yezidi Women”. In this exhibition, a project initiated and developed by Ms Shayda Hisami, Yezidi women are actors; telling their own stories through the art of photography. The exhibition is part of a training programme by Ms Hisami, in which 9 Yezidi women from Khankê refugee camp participated. Some of the women will be present at the festival. The conference, which is organised by the Galawej Cultural Centre in collaboration with the University of Sulaimani’s Gender and Violence Studies Centre, will reflect on these questions. The main aims of the conference is to pay respect to the historical struggle of Kurdish women, to raise national and international awareness about their role and the impact that role may have on the international politics as well as feminist theories, and finally, to put into perspective the different aspects of gender, nation, war and politics in relation to the context-specific manifestation of Kurdish women. Thanks to the Galawej Cultural Centre and team members of the Galawej Festival for their commitment and dedication to this important subject. Since 1996, the Galawej Cultural Centre has brought together hundreds of writers, poets, academics, artists and researchers in one of the most important cultural manifestation in Iraqi Kurdistan Region. This is the first time that the Festival has integrated a conference dedicated fully to women. Such an initiative can be considered an expression of a progressive stand indicating the increasing awareness about women’s rights and women’s different representation in the collective imagination in Kurdistan.
Period20 Nov 2015
Event typeConference
LocationSulaimani, Iraq