Latest publication: An overview of Kurdish women’s struggles in the UK

Roj Women has made it again. Another year of hard work and achievements. A new membership scheme and on-going employability services, more lobbying in international forums for women’s rights and an open invitation to participate in a research project about the Kurdish Women’s Movement are some of the issues you will find in our latest Activity Report 2013-2014.


A quick overview of Roj's work over the past year

A quick overview of Roj’s work over the past year

Roj’s action research project is building on existing literature with a view to contribute to the current review of the Kurdish women’s liberation movement’s praxis, both in Turkey and in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of Kurdish people now live in Diaspora.
By engaging practitioners based in their countries of origin and in the Dias-pora the study will benefit from the different experiences and expertises de-veloped as a result of their location. It is also a way of contrasting the differ-ences between the Kurdish women’s liberation movement practiced in Kurdi-stan and abroad.
Ultimately, the goal of this project is to build and transform the movement through collective learning and action research, as its findings will reach and feed the praxis of numerous activists, and of course, to publicize the struggle of the Kurdish women’s liberation movement.
Practitioners and activists are invited to join the online discussion forum that will take place in late May 2014, where the preliminary findings of the re-search will be put to test! Have something to say? Email us to to join.


A call to engender Turkey’s peace process

Turkey’s agenda for peace aims to overcome the decades-old Kurdish question and raise democratic standards. While welcoming this initiative, Yakin Ertürk questions whether the end of conflict will bring peace to women if gender equality issues are not adequately addressed.

Source: Open Democracy

Turkey has entered a political point in time with a strong drive for peace. This historic moment not only means ending the three decades of armed conflict that has hijacked efforts towards democracy, but it also means embracing a new social contract that transcends the current deadlock concerning particular Kurdish demands, and more general issues of national identity. While the prospect for peace is understandably received with a general enthusiasm and cautious anticipation by the public at large, a constructive dialogue within the parliament has not yet been forthcoming.

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Social support work aimed at women in Turkish Kurdistan

Services for divorced women and women whose husbands are in prison recently launched in South East Turkey   

Source: Femînkurd

Şahin, the Minister of Family and Social Policies, reported that the Ministry had started a joint project with the Ministry of Justice in order to provide social support for the wives and children of male prisoners.

Şahin, who addressed the Turkish Grand National Assembly Planning and Budgeting Committee on the budget of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies for the year 2013, informed the audience about the provision of shelter, fuel, education and textbooks as aid for underprivileged families.

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Inequalities encountered by Kurdish women ‘all the greater’, says European Parliament

Roj Women campaigning puts the urgent need to bridge the regional gaps in women’s enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in Turkey in European Parliament report

‘2020 Perspective for Women in Turkey’, a report recently produced by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliament, also known as FEMM, was voted and passed as a resolution in May 2012. Shadow rapporteur Marina Yannakoudakis and rapporteur Emine Bozkurt consulted civil society for the preparation of this report. Roj Women’s Association met them both and engaged in open dialogue with their offices in this process; our contribution was an important input to the content of the report. Our efforts focused on the need to bridge the regional gaps in women’s enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in Turkey.

Higher poverty levels in Eastern Turkey as well as a ban to provide education in languages other than Turkish put Kurdish speaking girls at disadvantage in poorer Eastern Turkey. The differences with the West of the country are so significant that Turkey occupies the second place in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation) when it comes to income inequality.

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Women of Diyarbakir get behind the wheel

Women lead drive for gender equality in Diyarbakir, south-east Turkey

Source: The Guardian

Kurdish women in Diyarbakir

Kurdish women in Diyarbakir, where an EU grant has enabled more women to gain licences to drive vehicles.

Most of the stories that emerge from Baglar, the largest and poorest district in Diyarbakir, in south-east Turkey, have been reports of violent clashes between Kurdish people and police.

Baglar is home to refugees who were forced from their homes when Turkish security forces emptied more than 3,000 villages during their conflict with the Kurdish separatist PKK in the 1990s.

But now it is making headlines for another type of revolution: the local authorities want to put women behind the wheel of buses and taxis as early as next month. Currently only 12.6% of all private drivers in Diyarbakir are female.

Funded by a European Union grant aimed at increasing youth employment, the municipality provided education in computer skills, accounting, communication, public relations work, typing and genderequality for 120 women between the ages of 18 and 29.

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Early marriages and illiteracy still common among women in Kurdish town

A women’s group has found that nearly one-third of girls surveyed in Diyarbakir were married at the age of 15 or younger and 60 percent are illiterate.

Source: Rudaw

Thirty-one percent of the 400 women respondents in Cizre, a Kurdish city in southeast of Turkey, were married at the age of 15 or younger while 38 percent were married between the ages of 16 and 20. The survey was carried out by Zin Women’s Center.

Harika Peker, the director of the center, told Rudaw that half of the women surveyed were between 20 and 29 years old and half were between 30 and 49. Peker said the major reason for illiteracy was that families did not allow girls to attend school, and that only a small percentage of girls had not gone to school by choice. Peker said poverty was another reason for the illiteracy. The head of many families, she said, are either unemployed or are earning a low income.

Peker’s center found out that 66 percent of the women spoke Kurdish at home. The language is not officially recognized in Turkey but is the mother tongue of most people in the area.  “Government institutions need to use Kurdish more to help the people,” said Peker.

The survey showed that almost half of the women in Cizre were wedded in arranged marriages.

Infant mortality rates, miscarriages and domestic violence are high among the women surveyed, and many women who were polled are living in households of 11 to 16 people.

Peker also said that of the 400 women interviewed; only three had homes registered in their names.

8th conference on EU, Turkey and the Kurds raises concerns over excessive centralization

The current form of government does not allow for regional differences and approaches to local problems and gives too much power to a central government that does not have sufficient knowledge and understanding of these problems.

Source: Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Peace in Kurdistan has circulated the final resolutions from the 8th international EU Turkey Civic Commission conference, held in Brussels 7th and 8th December. One of the many points arising from the conference were the obstacles to establish different strategies to effectively tackle regional problems as a result of an excessive centralization of power in Turkey. Roj Women’s campaign to address women’s economic, social and cultural rights in South East Turkey has been sheding light on this challenge for some time now.

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The politics of development in Turkey’s Kurdish regions

Source: Kurdish Info

The Kurds do not enjoy great fame and if they are spoken of, it is often done in non-flattering terms like ‘terrorists’ or ‘ separatists’. But there is more to it. The Kurdish region is chronically underdeveloped. The attempts of the Turkish government to invest in the region, without any real participation of the local population, are having little or no effect. The armed conflict that has decreased in intensity the last years has had very negative consequences on the economical situation in the east of Turkey. Also international, neo-liberal reforms did not do any good for the durable development of the region.

Underdevelopment in a conflict area

The- mainly- Kurdish provinces of the East and Southeast are the least developed ones throughout Turkey. The differences with the West of the country are so significant that Turkey occupies the second place in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation) when it comes to income inequality. According to a report from 2001 of the World Bank , the development decreases from West to East in a way “ that the West is almost equal to a West-European developing country while the East is in many aspects similar to a developing country”. Sixty percent of its population lives beneath the poverty line.

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Diyarbakir (South East Turkey) municipality to help women selling their products

In its continue work to help creating alternative jobs for women, Sur Municipality of Diyarbakir has been preparing a project of selling hand-made pickles by women to markets and grocers.

Source: ANF

Sur Mayor Abdullah Demirbaş, speaking to bianet about the municipality’s former and current projects for the employment of women, said that they aimed at creating an alternative economic power, so to say, to teach people how to catch a fish instead of giving them a fish.

“Gender equality can be achieved” Continue reading

Six cities in women friendly project


The project evaluates a city as “women friendly” if every citizen can experience economic, social and political opportunities provided by the city in an equal manner.

Source: BIA

Antalya (Mediterranean), Bursa (Marmara region), Gaziantep, Malatya, Mardin (south-eastern Anatolia) and Samsun (Black Sea coast) are being added to the list of “women friendly cities” as part of the “United Nations Human Rights of Women and Girls Protection and Development Program” implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Continue reading