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"Women, Life, Freedom": The Struggle of Kurdish Women to Promote Human Rights

Citation: Siqueira de Miranda, Sarah (2015) "Women, Life, Freedom": The Struggle of Kurdish Women to Promote Human Rights. Masters thesis, University of London.


Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

The Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), one of the most important secular socio-political movements of the Middle East, has addressed gender issues since its foundation in the late 1970s. However, the question of women's freedom acquired a central position after the 2000s, when the PKK underwent a deep ideological and structural transformation. A foundational tenet is "democratic confederalism", based on a democratic, ecological and gender-emancipatory system. For Abdullah Ocalan, the main leader of the PKK, democracy and freedom can only be achieved through the emancipation of women. Kurdish women have appropriated Ocalan's ideas and to a considerable extent, succeeded in promoting the empowerment of women and advancement of gender equality in the Kurdish societies directly influenced by the PKK: the diaspora and territories in Turkey and Syria. Although they still face a continuous and dual struggle against gender and ethnic oppression, Kurdish women have reached a high political status. As "guerrilleras", members of parliament, and human rights activists, they have disseminated the principles of gender equality throughout Kurdish society. In addition to adopting gender parity in all social, political and military Kurdish organizations, women established autonomous bodies within those organizations, which function through a strong transnational network from the battlefields in Kurdistan to the diaspora. Within this network, female activists in Europe play a central political role. They are the ones who are directly committed to gaining international political leverage, and with this aim the use of human rights conventions as a platform for dialogue constitutes an essential step forward. Furthermore, they play a major role in formulating Kurdish claims in universal terms backed up by human rights instruments.

Creators: Siqueira de Miranda, Sarah and
Subjects: Human Rights & Development Studies
Divisions: Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Collections: Dissertation
Theses and Dissertations
  • 15 September 2015 (submitted)


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