Cooperatives, an Alternative Living Space in Bakur

This is a translation of a Turkish language article, which appeared first on Özgür Gündem, 2nd March, 2013

In Amed, the Bağlar Women’s Cooperative and the Beacon of Hope Women’s Environmental and Cultural Cooperative are just two of the places where women self-organise.

Nurcan Aydın

In Amed [Diyarbakır], the Bağlar Women’s Cooperative and the Beacon of Hope Women’s Environmental and Agricultural Cooperative are just two of the places where women self organise. The Bağlar Women’s Cooperative was founded on the 26th of December, 2005, by seven women. 28 women are working in the textile studio, making local and traditional dresses that reflect Kurdish culture. Out of these women, 14 are volunteers and the other 14 work to finance themselves. The president of the cooperative, Yeliz Ayyıldız, said that the Bağlar Women’s Cooperative aims to achieve gender equality, adding that, “In order to eliminate all kinds of violence that women suffer in both private and public spheres, we work to increase awareness at all levels of society and strengthen positive discrimination for women.”

Ayyıldız relates that so far, 760 women have been employed, and that they are determined to carry out a democratic struggle for a cooperative and communal economic system, to challenge centuries of patriarchal rule.

Ayyıldız says, “Cooperativism has a moral and political basis shaped around women. Within this social context, the actual value of labour and its products can be recognised. Solidarity, the prioritisation of public interest, and participation in the formation of a set of ethical and political values around these is essential. This is the guiding principle behind our work in the textile studio and our other activities.”

Founded in the Suriçi district of Amed in 2004, the Beacon of Hope Women’s Environmental and Cultural Cooperative is the first women’s cooperative in the region. Naşide Buluttekin, the president of the cooperative, explains that the goal was to create the means for women to develop themselves and attend to their own needs. “We work in the direction of the women’s needs,” Buluttekin says. Regarding the work done for children, Buluttekin said that they provide pre-school education service for kids between the ages of 3-6, as well as education in their maternal language.