A seminar to discuss the challenges, achievements and lessons of the Kurdish-led feminist revolution in northern Syria, in Victoria University on November 4, attracted more than 80 people. It was the second seminar to be organised this year by solidarity activists and the Victorian Kurdish community in Melbourne.
Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink, who recently lived for a year with Kurdish forces in northern Syria and Iraq, spoke about the women and men she came to know and the extraordinary legal, social, political and economic transformations that were progressively changing their lives.
She cited as an example a young woman barely able to believe that new laws could give her rights against her ex-husband who had taken sole custody of their children.
Former Newcastle University lecturer Hawzhin Azeez spoke via video link from the city of Kobane, one of the three major cities in the region now governed by the people’s councils of the Rojava revolution. Azeez works for the Kobane Reconstruction Board, coordinating work to make the city habitable again after it was all but destroyed by ISIS in 2014-15.
Her slides showed a Women’s Park with a cooperative-run restaurant (“the nicest place to hang out in Kobane”) and a Women’s Village inhabited by women of all ages who have escaped domestic and other forms of violence.
Tens of thousands of residents have returned to the city from Europe since reconstruction began and refugees are pouring in from around Syria. Azeez explained that all are organising themselves into neighbourhood councils to participate in the reconstruction.
Havin Guneser, who has translated Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s work into English, spoke on the final panel by video link from Germany to discuss the significance of the “three pillars” of the northern Syrian revolution – democracy, feminism and ecology – for feminists worldwide.
[Australians for Kurdistan meets regularly in Melbourne. For more information visit australiansforkurdistan.org.]