Feminism is an integral part of women’s liberation on a socio-political level throughout Kurdistan. The struggles of Kurdish women vary from each Kurdistani
region because of the decades-old segregation we have been subjected to, and the lack of integration between Kurds in general. For example, Kurdish women within rebel-led movements for greater rights in Northern Kurdistan (Bakurê Kurdistanê) have been treated as equal to men in many aspects, whereas in Southern Kurdistan this has not been the case historically because women have played a less significant role within the political and warfare domain.
We have yet to reach a level where collaborative efforts are being made by women to affect governmental policy, or to rigorously campaign for the rights of women on a nationwide scale. This is not necessary a shortcoming of Kurdish women because our history is tainted with blood, and our on going struggle to survive as a nation. However, we have not reached a stage in our history where women recommend policy on a consistent basis, and be part of the political decision making process on a governmental level.
Politicians are, for the most part, out of touch with young people. This makes it extremely difficult to lobby or even try to understand what their political views are. Female politicians are no better, they’re not just out of touch with young people – they are simply not forthcoming in engaging with young women.
Let me illustrate this by way of example – abortion remains illegal, which in effect harms women because they will seek alternative methods of having an abortion. I recently spoke to a woman, in her late 30s. She has 6 sons, and attempted to have an abortion by taking two aspirin per hour for the duration of several hours. And this is because aspirin can cause miscarriages if taken in high doses. Surely this is an important issue to be discussed on a socio-political level? There are women going to lengths to self-abort at the expense of their own health, and the legal system in Kurdistan does not take into consideration financial or other non-health related reasons for abortion. Members of parliament have not made this an important issue to discuss – the current situation has been accepted without questioning, despite the numerous cases of women who have suffered because of it.
The need for ‘feminism’ is not just simply an imitation of the West, but it is an awakening within women (and men who are supportive of equality on a socio-political level). We need to construct our own Kurdish feminism that fits into our ideals; ways of thinking, and this is while we adopt the basic framework of feminism, which is to promote equality between men and women.