Efrin, Syria− Kurdish forces of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) −the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party in Syria (PYD)– started nearly a week ago a training programme for women on the use of weapons in the countryside of Efrin city, north Syria. Over three days, dozens of Kurdish women have been trained by some YPG female fighters. New members learned how to act on checkpoints and how to get engaged in combats.
As there are different stances and views on the issue, ARA News sought to follow what women exclusively think of women taking up arms.
Rolyan, who recently joined the ranks of YPG's female fighters, thinks that women’s determination in defending themselves and their home-country obliges them to take up arms against the assaults on Efrin city.
“I exemplify the Kurdish women who didn't have the chance to serve their community. With the establishment of the YPG forces, we (Kurdish women) are given the opportunity to be active participants in the community, be it politically or militarily,” Rolyan told ARA News.
Evin, a primary school teacher, spoke in favor of women fighting side by side with men in battlefields.
“Women who take up arms defend their honor and dignity in the first place, as well as their country,” Evin said.
For Shizar Khalil, an artist and a French language teacher, “Kurdish women haven’t reached yet the mentality which European women had when they fought side by side with men in war times”.
“European women were already organized in groups and there were nurses who took care of the female fighters’ children away from war zones,” she argued.
“Women shouldn’t think of taking up arms before arming themselves with knowledge and non-partisan free thinking, which Kurds don’t have yet,” Khalil justified her opinion, adding: “When women decide all of a sudden to take up arms, an essential part in them is being destroyed, for they will not be the same when peace prevails.”
According to Khalil, the lack of freedom and the exclusion from the decision-making process constrain the needed development of women’s position in the Syrian society in general, and the Kurdish community in particular.
As for Sherin, a female Kurdish activist, there is no difference between women and men, "not even in a military field".
Although Sherin condemns violence, whether practised by men or women, she still admits everyone's right to self-defence.
"If circumstances require women to pick up arms and defend themselves, it may be justified. But I'm anyway against the concept of women's involvement in wars or engagement in political movements, because they will most likely be used by their male peers," Sherin said.
She added: “We know women as mothers, sisters and beloved. We are used to experience the soft side of women, not the violent one. If there would ever be need for them to play a role in war times, it should nursing, not fighting."
Hevi Qejo, a mother who works in a local radio station, pointed out to the idea of equality between men and women, saying: "Our homeland is everybody‘s concern, and women are bound to defend it as well, regardless of what others might say about women's physical structure. Some people serve their country with knowledge while others take up arms. Men and women could also serve their country differently for a unified goal."
The militarization of women remains a controversial issue in the Middle-Eastern societies. Those who justify it resort their view to the concept of equality between men and women, others emphasize everyone's right to self-defence.
Reporting by: Jinda Ahmed
Source: ARA News