Women in Deir ez-Zor Organize in Communes

This report was published by ANF English on 12 June, 2020

In the town of al-Kasrah in Deir ez-Zor, women from the Şehîd Mihened Ilêwî commune lead the struggle against the patriarchal mentality and social legacy of the ISIS.

The Rojava revolution has significantly changed the role of women in northern and eastern Syria. However, this revolution is not yet over, women continue to fight in self-organised structures against the prevailing patriarchal attitude. They organise in communes and lead the self-organisation of society. This process of emancipation and liberation also affects places that were recently under the reign of terror of the so-called ISIS such as the town of al-Kasrah in the district of Deir ez-Zor. One of the first women’s grassroots communes that were organized there after the liberation on July 27, 2018, is the “Şehîd Mihened Ilêwî Commune”.

“Physical and psychological liberation”

Since liberation, thousands of people have returned to the region and women began to get organized in communes. There are now 23 women’s communes in the Deir ez-Zor district, which organise aid for the needy as basic councils. They play an important role in local defence and democratic decision-making and fight against the patriarchal mentality and its social consequences. Muna al-Khalaf works in the management of the Şehîd Mihened Ilêwî commune. She says that from the very beginning of their work, the aim of the commune was, with the liberation of the city, to fight for the physical and psychological liberation of women. Against this background, many women have joined the self-organization.

“Our success lies in the educational work”

“The women in the villages and towns have quickly organized themselves. They have developed an awareness of defence, health and education through their communes. The communes are made up entirely of women. Our success lies in our educational work. We have held special seminars for women liberated from the hands of the ISIS and have identified the problems of women in the region and developed appropriate models for solutions.”

“We have begun to crush the patriarchal mentality”

Muna tells the following about their work: “We have repeatedly visited the women. These visits quickly brought positive results. We have begun to break down the patriarchal mentality.” Saida Ahmad, from the education committee of the commune, explains: “The population of Deir ez-Zor is closed to the outside world. The ISIS mentality still has an impact on society. We are trying to break through this mentality. If we succeed, our work will be easier. With the mental self-liberation of women, society is also liberated. That’s why we work intensively with women.”

Jobs for 250 women

An important pillar of the liberation of women is the creation of economic independence. Through their economic commissions, the communes are working to establish co-operatives and other forms of self-organised work. So far the commune has been able to create 250 jobs for women.