They Contributed to their Communities by Forming a Co-operative

This is a translation of an Arabic article by Bretan Medusa and Suzdar Khalil that appeared on Hawar News on 11 November, 2018

Eleven women have successfully formed a co-operative society by buying a power generator. These women were previously stripped from their natural right to work and were distanced from contributing to the communal economy, but thanks to the Rojava Revolution they have reinforced the women’s economy and reinstated a role for women in their society.

In neolithic societies, women had a very influential role in society, they made laws, cultivated the land and raised livestock. They were heavily involved in the economy as well. Women’s role diminished gradually after empires were established, and the patriarchal mindset was embedded in society. Women were turned into a commodity; women were bought and sold.

During the reign of empires, feudalists practised the same policies against women. Capitalism has also treated women like products, and as a means to advertise products.

Despite the socialist revolutions that promised to free women, women played almost no role in them. These revolutions couldn’t fulfil their promises, and have never reached their stated goals.

Today in Northern Syria, a new economic model is being built, and women are at the forefront of it. The Rojava Revolution is recognised as ‘the women’s revolution’. Women are establishing their own institutions, including special women’s committees which form part of Kongreya Star. Under its supervision, new opportunities are being created to establish a women’s economy, including training courses in skills such as sawing and nursing, and co-operative societies. Serekaniye is one of the cities that these economic committees are being established in for the past two years.

Maybe they are little, but we have made very important steps.”

Abdekî, a spokesperson of the women’s economy in Serekaniye, said that the economy is one of the most important subjects that Kongreya Star has been concerned with. She said, “In order for women to come back to life, they should build and develop their own economy. This step is new for the society because the economy has been monopolised by men for thousands of years, and very hard work is needed to get things back to the way they used to be before the monopoly of men. Maybe our work has been small so far, but we have made very important steps forward.”

We should help women understand that the economy starts with their labour.”

Klestan mentioned that co-operative societies are one of the most important issues that they are discussing in order to reinforce the communal life and achieve equality. One of the coops is agricultural, and the rest are trades. There is a commercial co-operative as well, but it was stopped due to lack of efficiency. She said, “People didn’t have a good understanding of the idea of co-operative societies, women also weren’t very interested in the commercial life, because for thousands of years they have been very far from it. We have a lot of work to do to get women to understand the importance of their participation.”

We have visited a women’s power generator co-operative called Frashîn.

The generator was bought a year ago and was stored in Al-Mahatta neighbourhood in Serekaniye. It has a capacity of 900 amperes and it sends electricity to 400 houses from 1-4pm, and then the national electricity is used from 4-9pm. The generator is used again from 9pm until 1am.

The important thing is that we are not reaching out for help to anyone.”

Shamsa Fahd Amin, a member of the co-operative, said that in the beginning they were seven participants, including one woman. “With time all the members of the co-operative have become women,” she said. “We are 11 women, we distribute the profit equally amongst ourselves, and now we don’t need men economically.”