written by Kimmie Taylor
On Friday 12th January, women gathered in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in the city of Derek for the first ever conference on Jineology in Northern Syria; the science of women aimed at developing a sociology, and practice behind it, based on truth and equality. Women from every ethnicity and religion of Northern Syria, from all four parts of Kurdistan, and internationalists, joined the conference and expressed their excitement in participating in creating history. The date of the conference was chosen to honour the female comrades who were martyred last year in Qeracox.
The opening speech was made by Fawza Yosif, the co-leader of the DFNS (Democratic Federation of Northern Syria), where she stressed the importance of Jineology for the democratic revolution in society as well as for the military effort against dismantling fascism.
A report of the two years of work was presented, criticising the capitalist system for the formation of shapeless people, contrasting this with the goal of Jineology: to build a free life for all. In this context, research centres and committees have been opened across Northern Syria, education on the subject is given to all men and women working in the democratic institutions, to the fighters of the YPG and YPJ, as well as to school students aged 16-18, and for the first time ever in the Middle East, an all-women’s village is being constructed to put into practice the ideas of a free, ecological, and communal life, based on the empowerment of women.
An open discussion was then initiated, where women gave their views on the work done and suggestions for the future. Criticisms here come in the form of aiming to positively develop each other as comrades working together towards a democratic, free life, and in this way, several were made which will contribute to the development of Jineologys affect on society. One woman emphasised liberalisms special war on the youth; they are shouting about freedom but understanding it in an individualistic way. She suggested that the dogmatisms of education be broken in order to give the youth a true understanding of themselves and freedom.
Another woman said that since seeing Jineology education she began work, but because of the patriarchal mindset of males around her, she still struggles every day to go to work and take an equal role. She claimed that by understanding and practicing Jineology ideas, through our empowerment and participation in society, together we will also give men their freedom. Another woman said that the YPJ is seen like a bright star in the world and that Jineology is also becoming to be seen like a star.
Whilst there are wars between and against almost everybody in the Middle East, this conference has shown what democracy is with the participation of all ethnicities and religions. But she criticised that until now, the basic problem is that the level that is needed has not been reached, as many people see others as smaller. She emphasised that we are all special; everybody must live as who they are, and in this way, work towards freeing ourselves and each other is for all of society to do together.
Her second point was that we have not yet destroyed sexism, and this is not just the work of the YPJ, we can not do this only with weapons: Jineology is the liberation of women. “If we do this, we will be an example for the whole world, we will create a huge belief, and a lot of power for oppressed people everywhere.”
The conference continues tomorrow, with a report on the research on sociology in the perspective of Jineology, followed by an open debate on politics, economy, ethics and aesthetics, demography, education, self-defense, sexism in society, family, existing social problems, and finishes with a perspective on the future.
The first-ever conference of Jineology in Northern Syria, held in the city of Derek, ended on Saturday 13th January. In attendance were hundreds of women of all ethnicities and religions from across Northern Syria, as well as women from all four parts of Kurdistan and across the world.
On this second day of the conference, documents were read on the research done in many areas including the hidden history of the oppression of women, delving into thousands of years of societal changes, using archeological artefacts excavated from many ancient towns across Northern Syria, such as figurines of the mythological Goddess of love and political power, Ishtar.
Research on societal problems and effects of recent history during the rule of the Syrian regime, the occupation of ISIS, as well as the effect of the democratic revolution spreading across Northern Syria, were also presented.
The perspectives of Jineology towards building a democratic society, including how to combat sexism within families, alternatives for economy and health, and self-protection of gender, ethnic, and religious identities, were just some of the topics researched and read to the participants of the conference.
After each topic, women had the opportunity to criticise and propose areas of research for Jineology, many of which were suggesting more education be available and centres to be opened in various towns.
A Yezidi woman explained how they have always played a leading role in their society, so proposed that more research could be done on the history of women in Shengal.
Many women also shared their views on life before and after the revolution. One, in particular, remembered that when men used to talk politics, as a woman even just sitting to listen, they would be sent out of the room. They had no place in politics whatsoever. Now women are represented at 50% at every level in the democratic structures.
Another, coming from one of the many Kurdish families who were for generations denied citizenship under the Syrian regime, had no rights to study at school and had to pay bribes in order to do so. They couldn’t even dare to think about studying in their own language. Now she sees Kurdish songs on television, and a conference of women discussing the future of multi-national, multi-religious, equal and free society.
In the closing speech, it was said that this conference has shown how far Jineology has come, but also that it is necessary to continue working. She ended with a question posed by Abdullah Ocalan: “How do you want to live?”
Our reply is: We want to live free.