Women found their identity in Northern and Eastern Syria

  • women
  • 11:52 28 February 2024
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RIHA - Northern and Eastern Syria Democratic Autonomous Administration Women's Council Vice President Ruken Melê stated that with the new social contract, women are equally involved in management in all areas, and said: "Women themselves have a say in the decision-making stages."

The Democratic nation system, which the Kurdish movement is based on, is organized as an alternative model to the nation-state system against the danger of capitalist modernity shaped by religiousism, scientism, nationalism and sexism. While the people inspired by the Democratic nation model, which focuses on "multilingualism and colourfulness" as opposed to the nation-state system shaped by "one language, one religion, one flag", are laying the stones of the road to the Rojava Revolution / Women's Revolution, they are also making preparations for the construction of a new life made. The "Arab Spring" rebellion, which took place in the Arab geography in the spring of 2011, spread to Syria and the people thirsty for revolution in Rojava lit the first spark of the fire of revolution on July 19, 2012.
Following the declaration of the revolution on 19 July 2012, Cizîr Canton was declared on 21 January 2014, Kobanê on 27 January and Afrin cantons were declared on 29 January of the same year. The infrastructure of the cantons was built with a democratic, ecological and women's libertarian paradigm. It was women who led the people, who developed their organizations in administrative, social, economic and military dimensions, up to the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria, at every stage. Following the canton system, 7 civilian administrations were established in the areas cleared from ISIS. At the third conference of the Democratic Syrian Council, it was decided to establish the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria to ensure coordination between all parties. Thus, each region was governed with its own uniqueness.
The co-chairship system was applied in all processes. Women took part in direct management in all public institutions and organizations, from local governments to the public council. Peace Committees were organized and the Court of Justice was established in 2015. Later, the Social Justice Assembly statute was prepared, thus the foundation of the Social Justice Assembly was laid in 2017, and the "Mala Jin Peace Committee" and the "Social Justice Council" were established under the umbrella of this Assembly.
Mala Jin, which opened its first branch under the umbrella of the Social Justice Council in Qamishlo on March 20, 2011, organized under the umbrella of Kongra Star and opened 62 branches. Mala Jin, organized with the philosophy of equal society, democratic family culture and free co-living awareness, aimed to solve domestic violence and the problems experienced by women in society through committees. Mala Jin was represented in all civil institutions and judiciary of the Autonomous Administration, where unsolved cases were reported to the Women's Justice Council.
Violent incidents discussed in the "Women's Offices" established in each institution were moved to "Mekteba Jin". A solution was sought for the problems encountered here. If a solution cannot be found, the problem experienced by the woman is brought to the Women's Coordination, and if there is violence against women, an investigation is opened against the perpetrator and a judicial process is initiated. In order to prevent the applicant woman from being victimized, the women's economic and social rights were protected by the coordination. If the problem could not be solved here, women's rights were sought by applying to the courts of the Autonomous Administration.
Finally, the Autonomous Administration accepted the Social Contract, consisting of 4 main headings and 134 articles, on December 12, 2023, in order to strengthen the social structure and justice system.
The changes made by the committee within the framework of democratic, ecological, women's libertarian paradigm were as follows; The Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria changed its name to the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria. Changes were made in the hierarchical structure of the Municipalities Committee in the Autonomous Administration, which will now consist of 7 cantons. The name of the committee was changed to 'Union of Communities and Municipalities', and the name of the General Assembly was changed to 'People's Assembly of Northern and Eastern Syria'. The "Observation Institution" was established under the Assembly of Peoples. According to the Social Contract, it was decided to establish a 'Central Budget and Payments Office' and a 'Court for the Protection of the Social Contract'. In the decisions taken by the committee, without ignoring many differences such as religion, belief and language, many different institutions, organizations and structures within the Autonomous Administration and 99 of the articles were discussed and changes were made by common consent.
While changes in many articles were made on the basis of being more inclusive, women's rights were the most emphasized issue in the contract, which was shaped around the theories of democracy, justice, equality and freedom.
While Ruken Melê İbrahim, Vice President of the Women's Council of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria, drew attention to the changes in social life in the region from the women's perspective, lawyer Aynur Zêd Pasha talked about the formation process of the new Social Contract and the stage of the women's struggle.
Ruken Melê İbrahim, Vice President of the Women's Council of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria, attributed the main reason for this change to the fact that women have a say in administrations at every stage and noted that the principles of the Rojava Revolution, which took place in 2014, were expanded and accepted as a principle and have come to this day.
Reminding that there is a requirement of "50 percent women representation" in the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria, Ruken said: "Women have a say here not only as representation, but also in the decision-making stages." Stating that the women's quota is implemented in all areas, especially in the municipalities and councils of the Autonomous Administration, Ruken stated that there are women's councils and women's committees in 7 of the 7 cantons.
Reminding that the Women's Coordination was established in 2021, Ruken said: “This coordination is not only within the Autonomous Administration but also in the cantons. Those involved in this coordination are the co-chairs, the Co-Chair of the Advisory Assembly and the Co-Chair of the Justice Assembly. Members of the coordination take their place in monthly and annual meetings where the decisions taken in the Autonomous Administration are evaluated and discussed."
Stating that women defended themselves against the attacks that continued both during and after the revolution, Ruken said: “We went through many difficult times during this process. One of these was to establish contact with Arab women. We had problems working with them. We encountered obstacles, but we continued our work despite everything. In the early days, studies were carried out in areas where the ISIS mentality dominated. Here we fought against both this mentality and the feudal and masculine mentality. Today, we are the target of nation states, especially Turkey. One of the most important reasons for this is the women's struggle. That's why women who fight at the forefront are the first to be targeted in attacks. However, we will continue our struggle shoulder to shoulder with all women living in the Autonomous Administration. Today, we are organizing even in the smallest villages."
Lawyer Aynur Zêd Paşa, who was in the committee during the formation process of the new contract, stated that there were many problems in the previous constitution of the Autonomous Administration, remaining from the Syrian regime. Aynur emphasized that after a 40-year struggle, autonomy was first declared and Social Agreements were signed in Afrin, Cizîr and Kobanê in 2014 and said: “With these agreements, the equality of men and women was accepted. Women's military, political and social rights were regulated. Women's representation in these fields increased to 40 percent. Many changes were made, but there were still missing issues."
Aynur touched upon these shortcomings as follows: “Due to the way of government, the laws concerning women and children were regulated according to the 'Family Law' in the constitution of the Syrian regime. There are still many shortcomings due to the laws inherited from the Syrian regime period. We hold all identities and beliefs equal within the Autonomous Administration, but the Mebdee-i Law (Basic Principles) in the Syrian Constitution, to which the Autonomous Administration is bound, contains Islamic law. Especially due to the law called 'Family Law', the legal process progresses accordingly. Of course, the Autonomous Administration has made many changes during this process, the last of these changes took place in 2019 and 2020.”
Stating that the need to renew the existing contract became evident over time, Aynur said: “New regulations were made for women in their roles within the system, in the economic, political, military and cultural fields. In the preamble of the contract, there is a statement regarding the co-chairship system: "It is required to adhere to the fundamental principles of equality of women and men. It was once again included in the contract that the Rojava Revolution was a women's revolution. One of the biggest achievements in the confederative system, which we call the women's system, is that women's representatives were determined from communes to cantons and from there to autonomous administrative councils, affiliated with the Women's Councils of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria. Within this system, women will have the right to speak directly in the management. Another achievement is that women started to take part in the Legislative, Executive and Justice Councils."
Aynur stated that many deficiencies in the laws regarding women's rights were eliminated with the agreements created. Stating that the last contract includes regulations and changes that have not been made anywhere in the world, Paşa said: “All these were made to protect the rights of women gained with the Rojava Revolution and to spread them to wider areas. Women are now aware that they are also involved in change and transformation and they act accordingly. Women are determined to protect their gains."
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