In Rojava, the significance of the co-operative system lies in efforts to democratise all sectors of society, including the economy. For this reason, creating alternative means and avenues that allow traditionally marginalised groups such as women to actively participate and engage with the market is an essential aspect of the radical democratic model.
The Centre for Economic Development is a non-governmental organisation that works to develop the local economy through the social sectors, and to support small and medium enterprises in order to improve people's living conditions, especially the poor and middle classes. The centre believes that this goal cannot be achieved without supporting the cooperative societies in various fields.
In Rojava, the economic activities of women are being organised in the form of communes and cooperatives. For about two years, women have been meeting in small cooperatives. This gets them out of their homes and secures them financial earnings, while at the same time providing products to the population at an adequate price.
While Naide Zengin was working on building sites in England she had wished to do something for Rojava, so she prepared a greenhouse project. “Finding my country and putting my work into it allowed me to be reborn. In this rebirth there is hope for a brand new world and a future. I have chosen the place I want to die”, she says.
The Economic Committee in Cizîrê Canton formed 21 agricultural cooperative societies in Hesekê and its rural surroundings, including three special cooperatives for women, during a meeting.
Under the Baath regime, Rojava had to provide wheat for the whole of Syria. And it had to export oil in order to make foreign currency for Syria. Nothing else.
And now? As long as there is war, this will determine the economy of Rojava. 70% of the budget is used for weapons, ammunition, logistics, and so on. That's $10,000 a month. Then the families of fallen fighters need to be supported if they no longer have an income. They are given land and they are accepted into cooperatives. There are also cooperatives being opened in craft and trade specifically for them. Finally, because of the embargo, petrol and wheat cannot be exported. And the prices for commodities like vegetables and textiles are climbing.
Women are the most dynamic force in the economy. What’s special in Rojava is that every day women are organising and taking control of new projects in areas ranging from agriculture to the textile industry. With the communal economy as their basis, the women are developing skills in order to produce according to the needs of the people. Their aim is to provide healthy nutrition and a contented life. They are showing that they can do this themselves.
The people's municipality in Sekar village in Dirbêsiyê, the town's economic council, Women's Economy Council and the village communes opened three economic projects supervised by cooperative societies with 116 participants. Their aim is to develop the economy in the region, achieve self sufficiency, break the siege imposed on Rojava and keep the spirit of cooperation and participation alive.