Our Network of Women Weaving the Future this November came together once more to share experiences and further our collective struggles.
The concert hall was buzzing with joyful reuinons, women celebrated their culture with vibrant traditional dress and the walls were filled with photos of international martyrs from Abya Yala, to Europe, and Kurdistan; including our dear friend Nagihan Arkarsel who was murdered by the Turkish secret services MIT. Hand crafted banners from all our international movements embelished the balcony. A tree of life decorated the main stage adorned with coloured string that was passed through the audience to represent our weaving of a connected future, whilst Rotînda‘s rendition of Ya Star played, calling for our freedom.
Day one begins with opening speeches outlining the historical importance of this conference, highlighting our continued united strength against the many faces of male dominated power within colonialism, capitalism, and all hegemonic nation states. With not only our phsyical weapons such as against attacks of the fascist state and NATO member Turkey, along with its collaborations with terrorist forces, amongst others, ISIS; we fight with our smiles, our love of a free life, and unbreakable will for a true democractic future. With a minute silence we commemorate all lives lost in our collective struggles and we chant together, Our Martyrs are Immortal.
With a video compilation of our 2018 conference in Frankfurt, we remember our successes and revive our visions of democractic and peaceful alternatives. We bring to the foreground once more Abdullah Ocalans continued resistance against 24 years of inhumane conditions, violations of rights and isolation in Imrali Prison. This unimaginably strong resistance of the only person to stand up and proclaim women as the first oppressed colony, reminds us again that a life lived truthfully is one of the struggle for freedom of all people, and with the leadership of women worldwide we can achieve this goal.
Session one: World War III and smashing the amor of the State and the Dominant Male
Meghan Bodette the director of research from the Kurdish Peace Institute Washington, DC, introduces our first speakers.
Nilüfer Koç (Kurdish National Congress) begins with the importance of womens perspective on war, calling for all women to analyse differerntly and deepen our understanding.
As women we have the ability to understand war beyond militarily supported physical attacks against peoples. Koç puts a spotlight on the specialist war, the first war that is the root of all other wars, a war without a name that began thousands of years ago and has lead to continued Femicide until today: the rise of patriarchy. Koç highlights the importance as women to understand that all armed conflicts are masks of the patriarchal dominant mentality. From this analysis we can see how whenever there is a fight for an alternative to the hegemonic states multilateral violent collaborations like NATO and the United Nations, there are targeted assasinations on our sisters. We remember our martyred leaders in womens struggle, Jiyan Tohildan, Roj Xabûr and Barîn Botan who were murdered by a Turkish drone attack on the 22nd July this year. Without knowing the history of patriarchal power and the rise of the dominant male mentality, we cannot understand deeply just how huge our international struggle is, and how these assasinations against women who lead this struggle, are not coincidental or because of rouge conflicts of nations or civil war, but actually a part of a globalised attempt to commit genocide on all women who resist.
Kurdistan is an example of what our will to resist can achieve, with successful autonomous structures practicing democractic confeduralism, not just Rojava but the whole of Kurdistan faces oppression, because it shows the way to a democractic future. This is the main threat to the capitalist system, the alternative life lead by women. The fear of this threat is why the nation states remain silent, continue dirty games of war with superficial fronts, continue to attempt to erase womens strength and use any means necessary to oppress women worldwide. Even with the use of illegal chemical weapons such as the Turkish State against Kurdistan. NATO state members lack accountability, and the OPCW (organisation for the provention of chemical weapons) excuses corruption based on lack of evidence to investigate such attacks, despite videos existing and being widely shared with the organisation. This clearly shows that the same states, the same dominant powers of our world - whilst being in direct competition with one another for the richest resources of our ecologically fragile planet - are in alliance with a mentality that destroys everyone and everything in its path to gain profit for itself. As the truth of these rulers is being unveiled while all conflicts cease to be solved, we as women are standing up to say it is enough, we will not be ruled by this any longer. Just as also the women of Rojilhat stand against the brutal murderous and mysogonistic regime of Iran, we can see there is success when we are strong together.
RAWA (Revolutionary association of Women in Afganistan) is an example of this strength; an independent organisation of women against fundamentalism in Afganistan founded in 1977, recently recieved the Sakine Cansiz award. RAWA began with the leadership of founding member, Meena, who was assasinated by the Afgan agents of KGB in 1987 in Quetta Pakistan, and strengthened thereafter with the unceasing will of socially and politically aware Afgan women. These women have built schools, hospitals, nursing courses, literacy and vocational courses for women and children and a bilingual magazine for education. Despite the US administration replacing one religious fundamentalist with another, today RAWA continues to stand up, organise and take to the streets against the Taliban and its horrific atrocites.
Ecocide: Appropriation and Exploitation
"We are not ashamed when they say we are witches. We stand by our spirituality. We are against ideologism because in our territories: we decide."
Lolita Chavez from feminista Abya Yala brings the spirit of the daughters of Pachamama, the Earth mother goddess emobodied in the mountains and in the harvest. We are reminded of the strength of those that are connected to their land, and the will of indigenous peoples of Abya Yala to fight for their right to self determination in defence of the earth and against the erasure of their culture. The people of Abya Yala see through this false democracy, and they embrace Jineoloji as the science of women. With an increase in weapons everyday and criminalisation along the border, they are facing incarciration and torture of their bodies, and despite this they are strong and fearless to defend the Life with mother earth.
Ariel Salleh speaks of her feminist awakening, and how Britain testing nucleur weapons on Indigenous Australian land began her political action for ecologically exstractive unveilings. Salleh speaks on the distance between women and nature being a capitalist dualism born at the start of patriarchy and stresses the importance of womens freedom for the freedom of all peoples. Salleh brings many sociological critical analyses to our minds, within a motivation to widen the praxis of hands-on politicised ecology. Sallehs theorectical discipline criticises eurocentric views within her explanation of the sex-gendered roots of patriarchal capitalist culture. Critiquing the theft by transnational ruling class and worldwide extractivism of resources, Sallehs work speaks to a deep understanding of care and respect for life and the method of how to live without taking too much, by bringing practical knowledge and experience of indigenous farming. Eco-feminism outlines that reproductive labor in the world system is not associated with climate destruction and Salleh explains how the Rojava Revolution is an example of this.
Making Invisible Labor Visible
In this session we discuss invisibilised womens labor that is forced to uphold the dominant capitalist system.
Genevieve Vaughan peace activist and feminist from USA/Italy, speaks on her work on the analysis of the Gift Economy. Vaughan explains that the expansion of capitalist modernitys globalisation from the west, created a schism in our relations with one another. Where once, women were educating children by showing the way to give care without the expecation or demand for something in return; a fracture has occured where capitalist gift giving has become the monopolised character of society.
Kavita Krishnan from the All India Progressive Womens Association, explains the horrific conditions of young womens labor in factories, and how the dominance of men in this system of oppression has a specialist superficial front. Kavita speaks of a weaponisation of the intention to keep children safe, which violently oppresses the freedom of young women in India.
Together we discussed; Forced Migration, Ecology, Health, Anti-fascism, Economy, Education, IN Defence of Language and Culture, Womens Liberation as Strategic Struggle.
Women from Ecuador, Egypt, Afganistan and Peru shared their experiences of migration and their resistance despite torture, hostage of families, threats and oppression by secret services. We realised the need for more intersectionality. Organising against forced migration can be even more successful if we are sustainable in our strategies and build a strength of associations that no longer need to rely on NGOs.
In Ecology, we learnt that we all shared the same perspectives of our fight for mother earth being intrinsically connected to the freedom of women. As Jineoloji shows us, a return to the mother goddess is essential; to give and bring not take and destroy, and to say We not I, is our philosophy of protecting Life. Wisdom of indigenous peoples of Abya Yala including the Mapucha sisters speak on the truth that no more generations can be innactive in social change: mother earth is tired, and we need to answer to her call. Hydro electric power, fracking, monoculture, are just a few examples of the greedy nation states complete disregard of humanity and nature.
The Health workshop run by Jineoloji and the Theatre of the Oppressed group MATALENA from Germany, was centered around a deconstruction of the meaning of health, beginning with etymology: Tenderustî (Kurdish), Slam (Irish) and Salud (Spanish), all denoting "to become complete". This then created a foundation for deeper analysis of the global situation of war in the framework of health, and how we must understand that this global war is not military but a forced sickness on all peoples. The workshop concluded with a vision of health in the context of freedom, and how without falling into the trap of a eurocentric approach, we can bring to the front the invisible labor of womens care roles, and our goal should be strengthen collective care that already exists, whilst being able to identify and resist systems that are individualised and liberalised.
On building Anti-fascist women lead organisation, we heard from women from Italy, Russia and Kurdistan. Reports were shared of the situation of womens resistance and oppression in these areas and more. A discussion on how fascism can take many different shapes according to the society and style of special warfare, and how effectively to organise collecitvely across borders with this in mind. The topic of how to build sustainability after a surge of resistance was discussed, and networks were formed with the aim to widen our practice of solidarity.
In Education, the worskshop was a session of four Live Books, in which women from four different countries shared their knowledge on building education practice in their areas and their motivations. We heard from Peublos en Camino intitiative which seeks to reveal a history to children that came before the colonisation of Cauca, with a goal of dismantling aliention from territory. Euskal Herria initiative explained how their education focuses on emancipatory, anti-racist and analysis of anti-patriarchal approaches. In Barcelona, topics included urban warfare and poverty. From the Kurdish womens movement, the topic of reclaiming of knowledge was discussed; a practice of taking back that which the dominant system has stolen from women since the beginning of patriarchal civilisation thousands of years ago, and an example on the knowledge of childbirth was given.
In Defence of language and culture we learnt that when we speak a language we embody our cultural roots, and we feel as if we belong to community. The topic of development of culture through language was discussed, and how as women from all over the world we must recognise that with this new world we are building together, there is language that is dominant, and when we strive to create this democractic society outside of the system of hegemonic states this also includes the hegemony of language. With this we must create a new language of revolution which is concsious and all take responsibility to learn each others culture and language.
We learnt that to achieve success in all areas discussed, a connectedness of our overall goal of the liberation of women was a necessary component. With a deep understanding of how each of our regions possesses the same overarching oppressive mentality, and a conscious and conscientious step in our struggle to Xwebûn – to become free women- we will live our revolution. To know oursleves is to know our society, as well as know our history. This is at the root of worldwide democractic confeduralism; a deep knowledge of diversity whilst working towards a collective goal and politicised society is crucial. What our achievements so far have shown is that even under conditions of war and dominance we can mobilize organisations of women to foster the needs of our societies. With a widening of our practice of solidarity we can lead a global womens resistance front.
"We want to remember all political prisoners. There are many women who cannot be with us today because they are imprisoned for their struggle for freedom. The price they pay is their own freedom"
Women chant as we begin day two, JIN JÎYAN AZADÎ; the magical formula from Abdullah Ocalan and a call to everyone, with the foundation of the Kurdish Womens 30 year struggle for freedom.
A video is shown from KJAR, the Community of Free Women of Eastern Kurdistan, which explains the historical significance of JIN JIYAN AZADI and that the success of the resistance of women in Rojilhat will without a doubt destroy the ideology of the iranian state.
Freedom will not come from miracles: Our Freedom comes from Revolution
Moderation by Rahila Gupta, a freelance journalist and Southall Black Sisters activist from the UK.
"What we wear, what we want, where we go, whether we wear a hijab or not, is not a religious issue, it is a political issue"
Fighting against the dictatorship of the Bashir regime in Sudan, Shahida Abdulmunim from the Gender Centre for Research and Training, descibes a strong resistance of women, not only in organsing but also in taking to the streets. Special warfare seeked to assimulate and passify this strength by appointing a woman to represent the movement, thereafter, women became part of the government congress and many laws were changed at the disadvantage of women. However, Shahida explains they are unbowing in their will to fight neoliberalism and patriarchal regimes, and this will to struggle unites them despite all.
Kurdish sociologist and writer Dilar Dirik brings together analysis of fragmentation on the global scale, revieling the geopolitical realities underneath propaganda. Dirik speaks to the importance of understanding that we must not fall into the trap of neoliberalism in reporting the actions of corrupt forces of power. Such as that of the Turkish fascist state, we should analyse on the basis that its actions are not seperate from NATO, in fact it is an integural part of NATO and the inhumane policies of violence against women and all peoples it was founded upon.
Dirik calls on the womens movement to not leave knowledge production to the hands of the state; to question all motives, such as Qatars support of the Taliban. Dirik also brought to the foreground the German Foreign Minister and her false support of the Kurdish Womens movements slogan Jin Jîyan Azadî, when Germany continues to support forces that attack women behind this guise.
Feminism: the rebellion of the oldest colony
Dr Anjila al-Maamari from the Centre for Strategic Studies in Support of Women and Children from Yemen (CSWCY), speaks on the current crisis of humanitarian aid, continuation of extremist forces and a lack of representation of women in the peace process. Yemen is a geopolitically strategic place for dominant powers that seek to control resources, which means a horrifically unstable environment for the general population and this means even more so for women. The war in Yemen which began over 7 years ago, has displaced more than four million people, this has lead to extreme food shortages, cholera outbreaks and continued violence against women. The CSWCY organises to give women a voice in diplomatic relations, and continue to organise community based social projects to strengthen society.
"we are rejecting the names given to us and to our lands by capıtalısm colonıalısm patrıarchy and gıvıng ourselves new name"
As we conclude with appeals for political prisoners, messages of support and solidarity were delivered for our dear Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the chairwoman of the Human Rights Department of the Turkish Medical Association, who was arrested on the 27th October for publicly speaking out in favour of investigations regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in Kurdistan.
Our hearts and every action we take against war and injustice in this world, are with all our guerillas in the mountains of Kurdistan resisting right now in unimaginable conditions, fighting with us for the freedom of all people.
Our Network of Women Weaving the Future will create a common roadmap in light of our discussions of the conference in this historically significant time of womens struggle.
Patriarchy will fall, and women will lead our alternative solution. By sharing our struggles, raising our voices, and with our hard work to remain democratic in our organising; our network of women have given us the opportunity to organise our future.
We have finished our conference, but our connectivity remains open, and we leave by remembering key topics to bring to our regions.
We must not close our eyes just because regimes claim to be anti-US. The same regimes, she said, understand LGBT struggles and feminism as Western values to be fought against.
- Kavita Krishnan
We are now in an age of reveiling of truths, the 21st century, the age of womens revolution. There is no better time than now for women who seek true social change in western countries, to do their part. True solidarity is not only standing together with our comrades across continents, but it is especially important to search for the truth of western involvement in political warfare and be persistant in calling out its barbaric and inhumane acts. We cannot understand the connectivity of our worldwide struggles without understanding deeply our own regions, and being active in diplomacy. We must not forget how effective peaceful protest is, especially in western states where the threat of the patriarchy and special warfare of nation state is invisible, we must show our strengths in numbers and take to the streets for our sisters.
With the Kurdish womens movements method of understanding the dominant male from Jineolojî, the science of women contextualises our war against this mentality wherever it may seek to oppress and destroy; we resist until our last drop of blood and continue our steps to worldwide democractic confeduralism lead by women.
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