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35 - The Women’s Movement in Kurdistan-Iraq

from Part VII - Transversal Dynamics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2021

Hamit Bozarslan
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris
Cengiz Gunes
The Open University, Milton Keynes
Veli Yadirgi
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
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The history of women’s activism in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is closely intertwined with the history of political resistance. In the 1950s, women mobilized against political oppression. Later, they joined the struggle as members of the underground movement, as couriers, as protectors and nurturers of male fighters, and sometimes as the peshmerga (those who face death) fighters. However, only few women played leadership roles in the resistance. After 1992, when a form of autonomy was attained, civil society organizations, including independent women’s organizations, proliferated. This growth in the 1990s and 2000s, combined with the end of the four-year Kurdish civil war in 1998, led to the formation of collaborative networks and umbrella organizations. Now we can speak of a women’s movement that, despite its internal shortcomings and outside obstacles, has been able to bring about change in the region (Hardi, 2013). This chapter builds on two earlier studies about the women’s movement in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Hardi, 2011, 2013). It draws on the voices of a group of experts to highlight the achievements and limitations and focuses on what to do next to surpass the perceived stagnation.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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