Seminar on feminist struggle in northern Syria

rojava women

[By Karen Fletcher] Northern Syria’s Feminist Revolution is the title of a one-day seminar to be held in Melbourne on Saturday, November 4.

It is being jointly organised by the Kurdish Democratic Community Centre of Victoria, the Kurdish Women’s League of Victoria and the Australians for Kurdistan solidarity group. It is also being sponsored by Victoria University’s Community, Identity & Displacement Research Network.

Kurdish women gained international prominence during the siege of the north Syrian town of Kobanê in 2014-15. Their heroic frontline role in the resistance to the brutal, women-hating Islamic State gangs produced both widespread admiration and curiosity which has continued to this day.

But as attention grabbing as the military struggle is, it is not the most important thing. In the liberated zones of northern Syria, women are playing a leading role in building a new kind of society — one which is marked by a radical grassroots democracy, ethnic and religious inclusivity, and by an unprecedented effort to empower women.

Arguably this is the most feminist revolution in history. For all those interested in women’s rights and progressive social change, this experience is worthy of both serious study and our practical solidarity and support.

International speakers

Dutch journalist Fréderike Geerdink will be speaking at the seminar. She was based in Turkey from 2006. In 2015, while reporting on the renewed war between the Turkish army and the Kurdish resistance forces, Geerdink was detained by the Turkish police and subsequently expelled.

Hawzhin Azeez will address the seminar via video link from Kobanê. She came to Australia as a Kurdish refugee from Iraq at the age of 11, lived in Western Sydney and went on to lecture in politics at Newcastle University. Today Azeez is based in Kobanê and works for the city’s Reconstruction Board.

Havin Guneser will also participate via video link. She  is an engineer, journalist and women’s rights activist. She is a spokesperson for the International Initiative Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan—Peace in Kurdistan. She has translated many of Öcalan’s works into English, most recently The Political Thought of Abdullah Öcalan (Pluto Press, 2017).

A draft agenda is available on this website. Tickets can be purchased online at The seminar will be held at Victoria University’s city campus at 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne.