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.


Kurdish women fighting against female genital mutilation

Source: The Independent, written by Loveday Morris

As a nine-year-old growing up in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Awezan Nuri narrowly escaped female genital mutilation. “My mother was 12 when she was mutilated,” says the 31-year-old women’s rights campaigner, who is also a renowned poet. “She has told me about the terrible pain, how much she bled that night and how ashamed she was to tell her family she was hurting. She couldn’t talk to her mother, because her mother was the one who’d taken her to be cut. She felt alone and scared.”

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From Rosa to Sakine: the International Women’s Movement and the Struggle of Kurdish Women

Roj Women Association organized a panel for International Women Solidarity Day at the Kurdish Community Center in North London in the evening of Sunday 3 March. Our slogan, “From the Mirabal Sisters to Rosa, from Rosa to Sakine: your words are our words, your ways are our ways” reflected how the Kurdish Women see their struggle as connected to the struggle of women across the world.

By Selda Aksoy (Chair of Roj Women); edited by Virginia Lopez Calvo (Coordinator of Roj Women’s Association)

Reknown book author and journalist Deniz Bilgin  and the Chair of Amed [Diyarbakir] city, from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party, Zubeyde Zumrut were joined by facilitator Turkan Budak, from Roj Women. The Co-Chair of the Western Kurdistan  Democractic Union Party, Sinem Muhammed, would have also joined the discussion but her visa was not approved on time.

A call for women’s struggles to remain united across the globe

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DİKASUM reveals its latest report on women’s issues in North Kurdistan

The Practical Centre of Research for Women’s Issues (DİKASUM) has been working under the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Council’s Women and Family Directorate for 12 years. Their latest report reveals many of the challenges and risks women face in North Kurdistan.

Source: Femînkurd

DİKASUM, which has prepared a report based on the profiles of 74 women who were admitted to the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Council’s Guesthouse for Women (women’s refuge), revealed that 58% of women suffer physical violence, 63.5% suffer psychological violence, 13.5% suffer sexual violence and 16.2% suffer economical violence.

The report was launched in conference room no. 2 at the Sümerpark Common Living Area in the presence of the Metropolitan Council’s Head of Social Services Semra Kıratlı, Director for Women and Family Ayten Tekeş, DİKASUM coordinator Özlem Özen and experts from DİKASUM.

DİKASUM coordinator Özlem Özen stated that 218 women had applied to the centre in the year 2012 and that these women were provided with counselling as well as psychological and legal support. She added that 74 of the women who applied to DİKASUM were admitted to the Women’s Guesthouse, together with the 51 children they had with them.

The report which is based on the profiles of these 74 women who were admitted to the Women’s Guesthouse  revealed that 48.6% of women had official marriage certificates, 24.13% did not, 18.9% were single and 8.1% were divorced. The report found that 33.8% of the women had arranged marriages, while 27% had married by their own choice and 20% had been forced into marriage. The report also revealed striking figures about the ages at which women got married. It was observed that 32.8% of women married before the age of 18 and 20.4% gave birth before that age.  Continue reading

Women in Turkey reject anti-abortion policy

Women in Turkey demand the process to ban abortion be ceased immediatelyTo support their campaign please sign this petition:

Prime Minister Erdogan’s statements in the last week of May 2012 have revealed that plans to ban abortion have been underway for some time now. Experience from the global arena illustrates that this lethal attempt, which has no scientific backing, will not reduce abortion rates; instead it will only lead to unsafe abortions and increase maternal mortality.

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Campaign to end FGM in Iraqi-Kurdistan sees success

Source:  Stop FGM in Kurdistan blog

WADI recently did a survey on the rate of FGM in Garmyan region, where the whole campaign against this practice once started in 2004. Since then these teams are visiting dozens of villages, meet the people, show educational films and lobby against FGM. This campaign obviously pays out and is proving that such a long term approach is successful: The latest data collected indicates that only 23 of 698 girls aged 1-14 years have been circumcised in 2011. Seven years ago a preliminary survey conducted by a WADI team in 40 villages of the Garmyan region shocked everyone when it uncovered that 903 out of 1534 women and girls were circumcised. The spreading of this news in the local and international media provoked suspicion towards our teams, and pressure was put on them to hinder their work.

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Roj Women advocates for Kurdish women’s health rights at European conference

Roj Women joined the 11th International Women’s Health Meeting, held in Brussels, under the overarching theme of “Women, Health and Human Rights. Let’s Build the Future”.

The event brought together numerous advocates of women’s health, feminist activists and academics, as well as funding organisations and other networks working on women’s health from different parts of the world. This meeting, which happen every four years, was first held in Europe in 1975. Plenary sessions, workshops, films, concerts and exhibitions provided an opportunity to exchange information and views, and to question and act on policies and practices regarding women’s health, and more specifically reproductive rights.

At the event Ayse Tekagac and Munevver Dogan, representatives of Roj Women, had the opportunity to raise the health concerns surrounding women in Turkey with a focus on the South East region of Turkey, where these issues are all the more pressing due to an ongoing conflict. Roj Women spoke about infant and maternal mortality rate, pre-natal care and family planning, mental illness resulting from successive wars and disease incidence among other health issues. The root causes behind shortcomings in Kurdish women’s health welfare were also outlined:

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UN raises concerns about disparities in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights between men and women and between regions in Turkey

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which reviewed Turkey in May 2011, has recently produced its Concluding Observations. Roj Women’s Association welcomes the support of the Committee to our key demands, reflected throughout the document. The following are the most remarkable points in it:

1) Turkey is called to adopt a general law on non-discrimination,

2) There is concern about the absence of a legislative framework for the recognition of minorities, including the Kurds, and about the denial of their rights.

3) Significant disparities between regions in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights as well as a concentration of the incidence of high poverty in the eastern regions, are noted. For example, while the national average for women’s participation in the labour market is 22%, this figure drops to 6% for southeastern regions of Turkey.

4) Concern that women’s working conditions have worsened in recent times with many of them forced to seek employment in the informal economy (66% of working women in 2006) is expressed. The Committee requests Turkey to review its social security schemes to ensure that workers, in particular women, in the informal economy are also covered.

5) Alarm at the very high incidence of violence against women. The Committee calls Turkey to criminalize domestic violence, strictly enforce relevant laws, increase the number of shelters, and monitor the discharge by relevant public officials of their responsibilities when dealing with victims of domestic violence.

6) The Committee calls for the allocation of the necessary resources for the implementation of the National Action Plan to combat violence against women and to involve the civil society in its monitoring.

7) Maternal mortality remains high, particularly for women living in rural areas who do not have adequate access to sexual and reproductive health care (in South East maternal mortality is double than in West Turkey).

8. Lastly, Turkey is called to expand the supply of day-care services and to adopt the quota system to accelerate women’s representation in political life and in the labour market.

Despite their valuable job and their support to voice civil society’s concerns, Roj Women’s Association regrets that the Committee does not mention explicitely in its Concluding Observations the need to provide education in languages other than Turkish. For instance, Kurds are unable to be educated in their mother tongue. Thus, Kurdish girls who cannot speak Turkish face difficulties because they encounter Turkish for the first time in their lives at school, at the age of 5. The rate of illiteracy among women in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish province, is of 56%.

Roj Women’s Association is looking forward to Turkey implementing the recommendations of the UN Committee and will monitor progress in this regard.

The full text of the Concluding Observations can be found here.

Roj Women publishes Annual Activities Report for 2010/2011

Roj Women’s Association has just published its last Annual Activities Report that maps out the organization’s campaigning and community work from April 2010 until March 2011.

Field research in Kurdish regions of the world, community research among the Kurdish Diaspora, lobbying meetings at British, European and United Nations forums, grassroots groups capacity-building, seminars for university students and communities, to mention a few, are the activities that materialize a wider strategy that seeks to improve the lives of women in Kurdish regions and communities of the world.

Roj Women’s Association strives to further the rights and to expand the opportunities available to Kurdish women by means of drawing attention to the factors that shape their struggle and of advocating for the necessary changes to overcome them.  

Read the full Annual Activities Report 2010-2011 here.

Iraqi Kurdistan bans female genital mutilation

Human Rights Watch welcomed a draft law banning female genital mutilation by the regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Family Violence Bill approved June 21 by the autonomous government includes several provisions criminalising the practice in Kurdistan, HRW, said, adding that prevalence of FGM among girls and women in Kurdistan “is at least 40 percent.”

“By passing this law, the Kurdistan regional government has shown its resolve to end female genital mutilation and to protect the rights of women and girls,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But the government needs a long-term strategy to deal with this harmful practice because criminalising it is not enough,” she said in a statement.

The bill has to be ratified by the regional president, Massud Barzani.

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