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These Kurdish Women Have a Message on International Women's Day

  • Kurdish female guerilla fighters lead their own feminist movement.

    Kurdish female guerilla fighters lead their own feminist movement. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 March 2016

The group have been praised by Western feminists for confronting traditional gender roles and redefining the role women play in conflict.

A Kurdish women's defense unit, fighting against the Islamic State group in Iraqi Kurdistan, issued a message March 8 for International Women's Day, saluting the Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as the YPG.

“We are resisting against members of (the Islamic State group), and we will continue to resist until the end. We call on all women to increase (their) strength and break the silence about these massacres,” the group, YJA-STAR, said in a statement.

IN DEPTH: Kurdish Struggle

Ferasin Berfin, a female combatant, said March 8 is an important day for women. "It was created by the resistance of all women in the world. We must all take to the streets. As Kurdish women, every day is March 8.”

“We have become aware and fight against the patriarchal dominant mindset with the leadership of leader Abdullah Ocalan," she added.

Abdullah Ocalan is the jailed founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and he is thought to have helped guide the group's demands for gender equality and “women’s liberation.”

RELATED: Kurdish Women Turning Kobani into a Living 'Hell' for Islamic State

The PKK has itself been called a feminist movement, although the group's struggle encompasses a wide-range of demands, including democratic confederalism and autonomy.

PKK fighters pose with a displaced Yazidi woman (R) | Photo: Reuters

“Kurdish women have paid a very high price. We must resist in all areas of life, and now we are part of the frontline to fight members of Daesh,” said Berfin. “We have given our word to the people, we will continue to resist until victory."

Sitrra Jiyan, who is of Armenian origin, said that in the "annals of history, women have been considered the goddesses of freedom and equality, but women have fallen captive of the mentality dominated by men.”

“Women have a strong will and energy. We salute the resistance of the YPS-Jin (Women's Civilian Defense Units) with the spirit of March 8. Worker women are women who resist," she added.

In 2015, Kurdish female soldiers took a break from fighting the Islamic State group to celebrate International Women’s Day. In the Syrian town of Kobane, hundreds gathered to mark the day and honor the women who died protecting the city.

OPINION: Criminalizing Our People: Social Impacts of the PKK Ban

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