In Rojava, the Kurdish popular leader Abdullah Öcalan’s perspective that the economy essentially belongs to the women has begun to resonate. The women of Rojava are increasingly active and organized in the economy, and there have been new initiatives.
One of these is the Adar Bakery. The first bakery to be founded and run by women in Rojava. With the support of the TEV-DEM Women’s Economic Committee, six women were organised in a co-operative and began production in April 2016, communally making the bread and sharing the revenue.
Contrary to the working process of the patriarchal class society, the women enjoy their communal production, joking and singing together at work.
The Adar Bakery was founded in a street near the market in Derik. When we went there to write about it, the first thing that we noticed was their natural enthusiasm and warmth. They carry on working while talking with us. They tell us that they are pleased that we are there to write about them, because they are proud of their work and would like to set an example to other women.
In the meantime, customers are pouring in, and the women are on friendly terms with them. Bread is one of the fundamental sources of nutrition in this region, holding a sacred place. In the Adar Bakery, the bread is produced communally, without an ambition for profit, and sold at a more affordable price than that of the marketplace. This is an important benefit to the nutrition of the society. They provide bread for free to those without financial means. Also, the sense of community is supplemented through their convivial, respectful and honest presence in society.
In the Adar Bakery, three bags of flour are made into bread every day, both loaves and traditional flat breads. The women start work at 04:00, and work until 13:00-14:00. They tell us about what these efforts mean to them as follows:
Nahide Hesen: We founded this bakery as a group of six women. Five of us work here by the oven. Women would not have been able to do this job before, but the revolution has opened our eyes. Leader Apo gave us this opportunity. We are very glad to be doing this now. Men would not have allowed us to do it before, but now it seems natural to us.
Dilber Muhammed: It is the first time in Rojava that women run a bakery, although beforehand women were already occupied with such tasks in their homes. However, this bakery opened in Derik and we started to run it as women. We love our job. The society is also pleased with the work we do. Our bread is different, no one else can make it quite the same way. We also make regional varieties. When we first started, the income it brought was low. However, gradually we have been making enough to contribute to the household and our children.
Once we had a martyr in the family, I had to stop being a housewife, but could not find any work. After the women’s economic unit was founded, Canê, who was responsible for the co-operatives, said that they were founding a bakery where women would work. When she approached me with an offer to participate there I was very anxious. A bakery was hard work, and women did not work there. I objected but she insisted. She encouraged me saying, “I have confidence in you, you can do this”. That is how I got involved. As I got on well with the rest of my colleagues, our work went well.
Medine Muhammed: I began to work in this job for the development of women. Aside from this, I have never worked in my life. When we began with this bakery, my family told me, “You cannot get into this business, you cannot get good results”. I said, “No, I will”, and that’s how I started. Now my spouse is also supportive, he brings me here with his car at 3:30-4:00 in the morning.
Rahime Yusuf: We are proud of the work we do. Women are part of the economy. We work together, joke and laugh together. We are at peace and happy, even if we get tired.
Leyla Miro: A lot has changed in my life since I got involved in this job. Now my family and I are happy. I contribute to my children’s needs. We want all women to enter into all kinds of work. There are many occupations apart from this one where women can participate. All women should work in some way and not be dependent on men. It is the same for the kids. We used to run out of money and get into debt, but now we can meet our own needs and take care of the kids. We are proud of what we have achieved, and we as women working here love each other very much. We get our job done together, singing and joking around in the meantime.
The customers of the Adar Bakery also had things to say:
Habib Siringet: We are proud of this bakery. We come from the marketplace to get our bread here. Their dough and bread are very good. Making bread is a form of art. Men can make dough well, but they roll it out and leave it. Here, they are better than the men. I am saying this as a baker myself.
Dilda Çaçan: The bread is very good. We are very pleased that women have been participating in economic production.