Toward Free Women’s Spaces with JINWAR
Several millennia ago in the Middle East a women’s revolution took place. On the shores of the Euphrates, Tigris, Habur and Zap rivers, women led the development of a meaningful life, based on ethics, nature, humanity, and rationality. This process culminated in the Neolithic revolution. That this history of the Middle East, and women’s own social history, is still alive is vividly reflected at Göbeklitepe, Vajukani, Orkiş, Çemê Xellan, Kortik Tepe, and Şanidar cave. World historians and archaeologists have confirmed these findings, which are also our own lived truths and experiences.
Despite obstacles, repression, and denial, a multifarious resistance to hierarchical social structures, in favor of an alternative communal life, has continued up to the present.
Our journey to reclaim authentic communal life is also an endeavor at revivification efforts through experience and intellect. Many Middle Eastern thinkers have made great efforts with their hearts and souls to learn “where did we come from, and where are we going?” and find the truth. By truth, we mean a meaningful life and a meaningful society. We, as women of these lands, affirm this truth, and we affirm “who we are, how we live, and how we should live” by rebuilding our lives in the framework of transformative characteristics of different historical periods. Against the background of a present-day social life that has lost all meaning, we look back to the socially constructed features of earlier eras and examine the wisdom, artistry, beliefs, and self-esteem of women who lived in them. We seek to reclaim a meaningful life by advancing an alternative life approach. Social solutions to social problems are neither abstract nor elite; they are not transcendental, isolated, or disruptive. In essence, women’s consciousness and lifestyle represent a stand taken against these symptoms of fragmentation. We draw upon the life experiences of women who used inclusive, communal, and enriching opinions and common goals to enable solutions. We consider it a revolutionary process, a process led by women, a process of women’s solidarity.
We are said to live in the information age, due to high level of knowledge, such that it claims to be at the forefront of human advancement. The level of technological advancement makes similar claims, such that industry, economy, the arts, and politics seem to take on metaphysical proportions. But in the spaces where the earth’s 7.5 billion people live, half of them are starving, and the other half are being massacred, either systemically or by epidemics. At the same time, information is manipulated to render the populace unconscious. On one hand, we are absorbed in wars and cultural genocides; on the other hand, a mere glance can pit people against each other in bitter hostility. For thousands of years, women have been massacred, as they still are in different ways. In analyzing male nature, we find that its weakest point is gender consciousness; sexism not only exploits women, it weakens men. In this age, friendship and coexistence are disrupted by feelings of mutual hostility. The present levels of knowledge, technology, and social development do not improve social life. We are not convinced that the methods they offer solutions to the unending wars and to antagonism between the sexes.
For this reason, in our own land, we have seen a resistance grow. With great excitement and enthusiasm, we are building our own living spaces that are suited to our history as women, free living spaces in civil society. As we work, the efforts of other women organizing women’s villages have greatly inspired us. A striking example is the UMOJA women’s village in Kenya, which maintains great vitality as a concrete alternative to social problems. UMOJA, which means “unity” in Swahili, has dealt the harshest challenge to twenty-first-century science and technology. This simple and ecological solution, we believe, is a method that meets the needs of female nature. Based on the same sentiments but with stronger aims and richer plans, we have organized ourselves and the work of our working model as JINWAR. By working to build a free women’s village, in essence we aim to transform all living spaces of society.
History began with women’s toil in agriculture, and through women’s wisdom in planting, gardening, and cultivation, the homes and villages of the first women’s villages were built. Today our way of life, our nature, and our ability to heal had been seen as backwardness. But the time has come to end this ignorance.
In the twenty-first century, against the background of ignorance endemic to the age of information and technology, we are building a free and ecological women’s village. Historically women, through hard work, built many places and cultural sites. The village we will build perpetuates this deep cultural heritage. In our new women’s village, every corner, every hilltop, every landmark will have a symbol that reminds us of our history and struggle. Women’s hard work and struggles will be memorialized at every turn. We still have villages that are referred to by the names of women: Gırêselma, Dayika Biharê, Xatûniyê, Gundê Heyatê, Gûndê Melekê, Xirbê Benat, and Xiznê are names that symbolize both women and life. We embarked on our journey with these names, and we continue it with our women comrades’ desire for success and a meaningful life. In this sense, we carry forward our cultural heritage of hard work.
Some people consider the possibility of rebuilding and developing in the Middle East to be too remote even to discuss. But here as much as anywhere, rebuilding our home is the most significant response to the forces of destruction. Building a village based on women’s perspective in Rojava is an important step in the history of the women’s struggle for emancipation. In light of our buildings that still stand strong despite the ravages of history, our endeavor to build a village at the peak of our resistance expresses our love and loyalty for our own history of resistance.
Other women have conceptualized the deep significance of a free life and wrote novels and books about constructing different lives. Dreams of an alternative life and the search for it have continued to this day in books such as Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun, and the novelist Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s With Her in Ourland. Probably others too had such utopian dreams about free living spaces. But as we are all aware, such dreams and utopias have always been faced with oppression and insults. Free thoughts and dreams are diverted and denied. But when we speak of a free-ecological women’s village and free women’s fields, we are not limited to dreams and utopias. On the contrary, we have the power to take purposeful action to make our dreams into reality. Based on our historical roots, our history, our faith, our struggle as women, our ethics and aesthetics, and our search for wisdom and meaning, we will have venues to implement our utopias. While asserting as women that we will make our dreams real, one of our most fundamental purposes is to adamantly fight all backward, traditional, incredulous, and aggressive mentalities.
At JINWAR, a woman will improve her historical and current wisdom in her own academy; she will carry out her healing methods and natural medicines in her own healing houses; and she will educate her children in her own schools. She will reclaim knowledge and science as a woman. With Jineoloji, the science of women, she will develop social and scientific remediation methods and deepen her knowledge of education, art, production, ecology, economics, demography, health, history, ethics-aesthetics, and self-defense. JINWAR, the free ecological women’s village, an alternative living space to contemporary forms of society, will strengthen her sense of freedom with this level of consciousness and wisdom.
Today war and crime are ubiquitous. The war against democratic, libertarian forces that favor humanity and a diversity of beliefs and ethnicities, are under attack by hegemonic powers. This social demolition hurts women and children the most. Against these policies of annihilation, it is our most sacred duty to continue to construct JINWAR. Some women, victims of war, urgently need these spaces to heal and recover; other women, who have alternative imaginations of free women’s spaces, can join this work to achieve the life they desire in JINWAR. Young girls and women will take part in the pedagogical development of the community. Using the wise methods of our mothers, who are part of history, JINWAR women will plant and harvest crops; they will raise the animals and make yoghurt and cheese from their milk.
Projects that are suitable for the free women’s village include building a school or an academy, establishing a natural medicine center, developing a children’s park, improving the use of solar energy, building an animal farm, and establishing a sewing workshop, an arts center, or a show venue. The village is open to anyone to carry them out.
We must overcome the concrete ziggurats in people’s minds and build our living spaces based on our own culture, in its modern and developmental dimension. On this basis, in JINWAR, a free-ecological women’s village where feminine life converges, will comprise structures made of soil and straw, namely mud brick. Mud-brick houses offer the healthiest and most favorable conditions for an ecological life. These structures exist all over Rojava as a social tradition. Here we will reflect on the healthy, prosperous, and warm environment of the mud-brick houses more deeply.
Not everyone may think of mud-brick buildings as new and exciting. But those who have survived battle zones where bullets, blood, gunpowder, and human parts are gathered have a different understanding of life, and their philosophy and vision of building with mud bricks is different. We aim to create spaces where women and children can comfortably live and welcome friends and acquaintances. For some people and communities, this construction may not seem to be a big deal, or the reasons may not be satisfying.
But Rojava has an urgent and vital need for the development of new living spaces that will strengthen the reclaimed lives of women and children. In our certainty of this, we work to develop it against all obstacles. We believe that our reasons are valid and that the traces of women and legacy of women’s resistance are very strong in our area. It is time to step up this resistance. Every period of chaos also brings innovations, so out of the chaos in Rojava will be born a democratic libertarian life, with solutions developed and pioneered by women. In this sense, JINWAR represents the construction not only of a village or a settlement but of life. With the women’s revolution in Rojava, the creation of women’s free spaces in all of Northern Syria, starting with the village, has become the main objective. By means of such developments, we will solve ecological, sociological, and vital problems and crown the Rojava women’s revolution with space for an alternative free life.
JINWAR, the free living space, will be constructed with the craft of women. It is open to all kinds of support, assistance, and solidarity. Be it materially or spiritually, we will empower women, with ou,r emotions and aspirations by building a new life in JINWAR.
With the hope of meeting in JINWAR, our free women’s village,
JINWAR Construction Committee