Jinwar: The all-female commune being created by Kurdish women to rid themselves of war and patriarchy

Jinwar: The ecological village created by women, for women to lead their own lives in Syria

The village is being created in Rojava, despite the war continuing (Stock image)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The women of Kurdistan have already earned international acclaim by playing a frontline role in the fight against Isis in northern Syria, driving the militants off their land.

Now a number of Kurdish women are going a step further, creating their own all-female commune designed to wipe away the stain of war and patriarchal sin.

The project is called the Jinwar Free Women's Village Rojava and it is situated near the city of Dirbesiye on the Turkish-Syrian border. It was first announced last year, with the explicit aim of providing a refuge for women, free from violence and conflict. The first mud shelters, built for maximum ecological value, were built earlier this year - naturally, the builders were women.

Now, over six months on from the project's inception, the women behind the site have released a video showing their progress, which can be seen here. The video shows material being guided into position by crane and nails being driven into the ground as the construction team step up their work.

One of the women interviewed in the video says "we ourselves experienced the war - many different women came here from many different nations, we discussed women's pain [and ways to] better understand each other."

The recent conflict in northern Syria, which began with the country's civil war in 2011 and escalated with the rise of Islamic State three years later, provides a clear backdrop and reference point for the village. One woman says she has organised a council of "relatives of martyrs", a reference to those who have fallen in the recent carnage. 

Yet the village isn't framed solely by the context of the recent war. This is about the wider issue of male violence and gender equality, which remains a chronic problem in the region and has inspired many Kurdish women to take up arms against Isis. 

One woman interviewed in the video asks: 'Why should there be beating and oppression? Why? That's why we build the women's village. A village that's carrying our name."

Another community member says that when women live together with men, the fam, the female partner is always "oppressed". However, because women will living with women, "there will be freedom and with freedom there will be beauty."

The founders want the village to be self-sustaining and women should be able to provide for their own basic needs. Plans for the village include a school, workshop and art centre as well as livestock, gardens and orchards.

Rojava is the name of the Kurdish-majority area of northern Kyria, and its inclusion in the village's name might suggest the project is aimed solely at the Kurdish community. Nonetheless, the founders claim the village is being created for all women, no matter what their ethnicity or religion.

Mothers are being encouraged to come with their children. One woman said "the live of the children will be really good. There will be the mother's love, honesty, peace among them, there will be no hatred, no leadership, no difference between woman and man. Everybody will be the same."

The commune is still under construction, but it already has its own chant, consisting of three simple words: Jin, Jiyan, Azad (Woman, Life, Freedom). After the darkness of the past few years, all the self-sacrifice and agonising life choice, this remarkable project may finally offer Kurdish women a ray of light.