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(Video) Women’s rights in times of conflict: women from armed and political movements express their views

Original post: https://www.fightforhumanity.org/post/women-s-rights-in-times-of-conflict-women-from-armed-and-political-movements-express-their-views

On 19 November 2020, Fight for Humanity organized a webinar to discuss the progress and challenges faced by women leaders when trying to protect, promote, and defend the rights of women and girls in times of conflict. The event took place in the context of the 20-year anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security.

Nearly 200 people participated in the event to hear first-hand views from 4 women leaders from armed and political movements: Zeyneb Muhemed, Member of the Coordination Committee of Kongra Star (North-East Syria), Dr Najwa Fadhl, STC Presidential advisor for women issues of the Southern Transitional Council – STC (Yemen), Olga Lucía Marín, former combatant and current member of the Common Revolutionary Alternative Force – FARC political party (Colombia) and Naw Wah Khu Shee, central standing committee member, Karen Women’s Organization-KWO/Karen National Union-KNU (Myanmar).

When war and insecurity take hold, women bear a heavy burden of violence, poverty and inequality: “during conflict lots of women experience sexual abuse, murder, displacement”, and it “can not be ignored” recalled Naw Wah Khu Shee. Traditionally in many cultures, “men are in leadership positions” and the “problem we are facing is a mentality which is 5’000 years old, the patriarchy” said Zeyneb Muhemed. “[Women are] confronting their husband, facing domestic violence, being kept home. Change need to start from their houses.”

There is therefore a need for women to be better represented in the society so that they can promote and defend their own rights, as well as those of other women and girls. The four panelists acknowledged that this representation has been enhanced over the past few years: “Women have become more involved in the structure of the STC. Each governorate has a department mandated to protect the rights of women and empowering them in society” explained Dr Najwa Fadhl.

This progress is not enough: even if “there was a focus on gender in the Colombian Peace Agreement” the implementation of this agreement has not permitted to reach a greater gender equality yet. “The issue is not to note it on a piece of paper but to make it happen” stressed Olga Marín.

The second part of the webinar looked at possible solutions to achieve greater gender equality in areas affected by armed conflict. For Naw Wah Khu Shee “Education plays a very important role [in achieving] gender equality […] and as KWO we focus on child development and nursery schools so that the mother can have free time and work”. For Olga Marín women “need to organize political parties or women committees” while Zeyneb Muhemed also stressed the need “to establish relations with other women’s organizations” for exchanges, including at the international level.

Indeed, this change requires the support from the international community “We hope that the international society will support women especially in countries plagued by conflicts, by supporting their participation and ensuring they are adequately represented” raised Dr Najwa Fadhl.

Participants also underlined the importance of awareness-raising towards reaching a broader consensus within society and to include men in the struggle. As Olga Marín said it, “We need to keep struggling for our rights. Even if it doesn’t produce immediate effect it does produce a change of consciousness in people.”

Fight for Humanity will publish a report of the event in the coming weeks, based on which it will propose concrete follow up steps and recommendations. It will also work with like-minded organizations to ensure that the voices and efforts of those promoting the rights of women and girls in areas affected by armed conflict and/or controlled by non-state armed actors are heard and made visible.

It is time to get to the roots of patriarchal violence – KJK Statement

We live in the age of unnamed wars. A nameless war is being waged against women without being declared. Patriarchal violence is carried out openly everywhere. Hundreds of women are murdered by men every day. Dozens of women are victims of sexual harassment and rape every minute. Countless women experience violence every second. At the root of violence against women is an exploitative-patriarchal mind-set that claims possession of women. This mind-set is organized in the form of a universal system and constantly reproduces physical, sexual, psychological, economic, digital and overall structural violence against women in all areas of life. For this reason, we can only break violence against women through a radical fight against patriarchal attitudes. For five thousand years the clutches of violence have been choking us and taking our breath away. We cannot and do not want to live like this anymore. It is enough! It is time to get to the roots of patriarchal violence and smashing it!

On the occasion of this year’s November 25th, we must remember the women’s resistance, which gives this day its importance. The Mirabal sisters were brutally killed 60 years ago because they fought to free their country, the Dominican Republic, from fascism. They were murdered because they were an active part of the resistance against the Trujillo dictatorship. For this reason, we consider the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at the same time as the day of women’s resistance to fascism. Because the murder of the Mirabal sisters clearly shows the inseparable connection between fascism, violence and misogyny.

Fascism attacks women

Even today women all over the world are fighting against fascist-patriarchal power. From North Kurdistan and Turkey to the Philippines, from Brazil to Hungary, women play the leading role in the struggle for a free life. And that is precisely why they are confronted with the most severe repression and violence. One reason for this is the misogynistic character of fascism. Another reason is that today’s women’s struggles represent the main dynamic of the common struggle for democracy and freedom. Fascist regimes are well aware of this and initially attack women in order to kill social struggles for democracy. By targeting leading women, social struggles would be broken at the same time. The attack on Zehra Berkel, Hebun Mela Xelil and Emine Weysi, members of the Kurdish women’s movement in Kobanê, killed by a Turkish drone, the murder of Leyla Wan, member of our executive council, by the Turkish army, the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the mayor Florisel Rios in Mexico, the systematic killing of militant women in the “peace process” of Colombia, the shooting of the black Breonna Taylor by police officers in the USA and countless other femicides of the past year should also be assessed in this context.

The current rise of fascism is due to its ontological relationship to capitalist modernity. Likewise, the relationship between fascism and the nation state as one of the three main pillars of capitalism is ontological in nature. That is, the existence of fascism is tied to capitalist modernity and the nation-state. Capitalist modernity also secures its existence through the tool of fascism. This is the reason why the nation states appear with their fascist character in what we called the Middle-East-centred Third War.

We salute combative women!

As the women’s liberation movement of Kurdistan, we send our revolutionary greetings to all women who today resist male violence who are taking their place in the struggle against fascism and occupation. We salute all women’s struggles that make the patriarchal system tremble and fear, that make the system take a step back and threaten its very existence. We salute all women from Kurdistan and solidarity comrades who are strengthening their self-defense in Kurdistan against male and state violence and who are participating in our offensive “Time to defend free women and society against femicide”.

We send our greetings to political prisoners who resist isolation, torture and execution in the prisons of the Iranian regime and other states. Greetings are given to all women who defend their country from occupation from Rojava to Palestine. Greetings to the combative women who say Ni Una Menos against femicide in times of pandemic and ensure that the murderers and violent criminals are punished. Greetings to our sisters who lead the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA. Your fight is ours, our fight is yours! We are one! So let’s get together.

Femicide is not only practiced by states, paramilitary forces or mercenaries. The patriarchal mind-set has established itself in almost all social groups and as a result, male violence threatens the will and existence of women in all areas of life. Violence against women, which has increased sharply together with the Covid-19 pandemic, is the actual epidemic of our time. This year’s increase in male violence alone clearly shows that the patriarchal attitude has not declined, on the contrary, it is still reproduced faster and more violently. Parallel to the worldwide struggle of women for freedom and equality, we see the patriarchal mind-set and its system and femicides.

The AKP is waging a special war against women

As the perpetrators of this genocide of women, the men in our environment complement each other as a substructure, with the state as a superstructure. Men who murder women, use violence against them and rape them are protected or even encouraged by the state in one way or another all over the world! While victims are blamed, the perpetrators are shown understanding. Their actions are justified saying that it was women who “provoked” them. We see that behind all of this there is a system, a cooperation between the perpetrator and the state when it comes to violence against women. This is the reality that victims of male violence face all over the world.

So we see that the patriarchal mind-set and its system are organized to counter the increasing awareness and striving for freedom of women as well as their growing struggle. The systematic war that is being waged in our country Kurdistan and in Turkey by the fascist regime of the AKP and MHP against the will of women is an example of this.

Above all, this regime seeks to destroy the revolutionary movement led by our women’s liberation movement. With this aim, it pursues a policy of special war against women both within the Turkish state borders and beyond. Women politicians and activists are deliberately arrested and sent to prison, women are raped and murdered. In Rojava, women in Kurdish cities under Turkish occupation are made slaves and sold, and leading women of the movement are murdered. During the pandemic, the Turkish state massively stepped up its hunt against the Kurdish freedom movement and is now carrying out raids and mass arrests on a daily basis. At the same time, it uses the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason to set murderers of women and violent criminals free. As a result, at least one woman is murdered by men every day in Turkey and North Kurdistan. With this in mind, it is not surprising that the Turkish government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (which it does not implement anyway). Only because of the common resistance and the organized attitude of women in Turkey and North Kurdistan he has not been able to implement its plan so far.

Women resist!

And that is our other reality, which is called: resistance and organized struggle! We resist all forms of violence and feminicide attacks from the patriarchal, misogynous, fascist and racist systems. With our resistance we get results. In Argentina, the struggle of women under the motto “My body, my choice” has led parliament to approve the bill for the legalization of abortion. In the US, women have made sure that the machist Trump does not get a second term as president. In Belarus, dictator Lukashenko has lost all legitimacy due to the women-led protest movement. In Poland, where the government, like the Turkish AKP, wants to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, women are resisting being robbed of the right to decide about their bodies. The connection between racism, fascism and misogyny is clear from these few examples. We see that wherever racist-fascist regimes rise, parallel attacks on the will, freedom and life of women increase. Neither the rise of racist-fascist regimes in our age – in which the probability of the realization of the women’s revolution has greatly increased – is by chance, nor is femicides so increasing under these regimes.

This in turn shows us that the need – recognizing the organic relationship between racism, fascism and femicide – to organize the united resistance is higher and more urgent than ever. We are faced with the local expressions of a universal fact. Because of this, it is of strategic importance that we unite our local struggles.

As Kurdish women’s liberation movement, we have launched a new offensive wherever we are organized. With this we are supplementing the offensive that the confederalist organization of the Kurdish freedom movement, KCK, has started under the motto “End isolation, fascism and occupation – Time for freedom” and as women we are leading it.

On the occasion of November 25, Kurdish women will take to the streets against femicide wherever they live and take our offensive one step forward.

We call on all Kurdish women in Kurdistan and abroad to challenge the patriarchy with strong and effective actions. In addition, on the occasion of November 25, we, the KJK would like to call on all women who are fighting against fascism and occupation all over the world in defense of the free life to join our resistance.

Only with a united struggle can we weaken and overcome fascist-patriarchal systems of rule. These systems of rule show solidarity, stand up for one another, and defend one another. Therefore, women must organize the united front of women for the defense of free life against the front of the enemies of women, nature, society and life and thus raise the common struggle. That is the importance we attach to this year’s November 25. If violence against women and femicides increase in parallel to the rise of fascist-racist-populist male regimes, then we too must unite our fight against fascism, occupation and violence against women. The time for this is now!

Time to defend the free woman and society against feminicide!

We, the KJK, have started our offensive under the slogan “It is time to defend free women and society against femicide”. One of the reasons for this slogan is that we see violence against women as a social problem. Just as the liberation of women determines the freedom of society, violence against women also simultaneously beats, smashes, dismantles and empties society itself. In order to stop violence, women have to bring all of society to the side of our struggle and turn the struggle against violence into a social struggle.

With this in mind, we would like to make a call to men: Do not become a partner and collaborator of fascism! Get rid of the poison of the patriarchal mind-set! Follow the example of our leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has deepened in the ideology of masculinity and the patriarchal mind-set.

Abdullah Öcalan implemented the philosophy and practice of “killing the man” in his own personality. “Killing the (dominant) man” means overcoming power, domination, exploitation and inequality in one’s own personality.

Our leader Abdullah Öcalan, starting with himself, confronted revolutionary men, even all men in society, with the question and task of transformation. The fact that he was kidnapped by NATO, the largest state criminal organization, and handed over to Turkey almost 22 years ago, and has since been held hostage in conditions of extreme isolation, also has to do with his unprecedented approach to the gender issue.

The KJK would like to take this opportunity to once again condemn the states that organized and carried out this international conspiracy against Abdullah Öcalan.

We call on the women of the world to support us in our fight to achieve the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, to become an active part of this fight.

There is no freedom without organization and self-defense!

The only way in the fight against male violence against women is through the development of women’s organizations and self-defense. We live in a time when male violence and attacks are invading all areas of life. That is why self-defense is an imperative. Not a single woman should be defenseless. In other words, not a single woman should be disorganized. Only by organizing and becoming part of an organized force we would be able to defend ourselves and fight against all forms of violence. We must be aware that there is no such thing as individual liberation. We can save ourselves from patriarchal attacks by building our unity against the patriarchal system. Organization is required to achieve freedom. By organizing we can free ourselves. By organizing we can liberate ourselves.

Our appeal as the women’s liberation movement of Kurdistan on November 25 to our sisters and comrades in the world is this: Let us join our struggles against all forms of patriarchal violence – above all fascism – and build the resistance front of world women. We call this Democratic World Women’s Confederalism. Contrary to the male violence that surrounds every patch of earth and settles in the air we are breathing, we have to create our free areas of life. And that is the strongest form of women’s self-defense; the creation of free areas of life. In this sense, we should not only use November 25 as a day of struggle against something, but also for something: Let us defend free women and free society against femicide and create free life!

Let us raise our voices and say from Kurdistan to Mexico, from Palestine to Poland, from America to India and beyond: Jin, Jiyan, Azadî! Women, life, freedom!

 

Coordination of the Communities of Women from Kurdistan (KJK)