A member of the AANES Women’s Economy Committee has shared information on the role of women’s co-operatives in re-building a “free and independent” economy in northeastern Syria.
The resistance in Kobani transformed the battle against ISIS and turned it into a revolutionary re-construction process with a radically democratic perspective, in which local peoples through their local assemblies join the decision making processes regarding their town.
The system adopted by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has been considered as an exemplary model of governance in the Middle East.
Women’s equal participation in the administrative levels from top to bottom have been a unique characteristic of the AANES for the nine years since it has been established.
There are a total of 23 women’s co-operatives in NE Syria and the income of these co-operatives is shared equally among its members. Through their agricultural work, across an area of about 1,200 hectares, women contribute to the economy of NE Syria at a significant level.
Women access their products in the bazaars and bakeries opened by the Women’s Economy Committee, which aims to form more women’s committees in each village of NE Syria.
”Before the Rojava Revolution, women were excluded from the economic sphere and were forced to stay home. Women were considered as slaves by the Baas regime. With the revolution, women began to take part in all areas of life,” said Armanc Mihemed, a member of the Women’s Economy Committee.
Mihemed stressed that women have come into prominence in economic life after the Rojava revolution.
”The Rojava Revolution is a women’s revolution because it is an economic revolution, not just a military revolution. Women have been taking positions in military and economic life as well. Women have been a part of all nine committees established since the revolution,” she said.
In order to re-build the economy of northeastern Syria, women have lived through tough times, according to Mihemed. “It was not easy, but women organised themselves for an independent, free economy, especially in agriculture. We are trying to re-build the economy and to re-build the labour of women which was stolen from them years ago. In doing so the most important thing is to form women’s co-operatives,” she said.
The Women’s Economy Committee, which was established in 2015, has become the basic organ for women to organise themselves. “We want to establish nine new co-operatives in the short term. Dozens of women will be employed in these co-operatives. We will increase the number of greenhouses and factories as well,” Mihemed said.
In Ras al-Ayn (Serêkaniyê), Tell Abyad (Girê Spî) and Afrin (Efrin) the Women’s Economy Committee established co-operatives, through which women of these towns participated in agricultural production across a region of 7,000 hectares.
However, Mihemed further underlined, “attacks by Turkey and their allied gangs have also targeted all achievements of women in these regions.
“So we are trying to give financial support to those women who were displaced from Ras al-Ayn, Tell Abyad and Afrin. Our committee stands in solidarity with all women, regardless of their ethnicity, language or religion,” she said.
Emphasising that the achievement of the AANES is in particular an achievement for women, Mihemed said, “People coming from outside of Syria have been wondering about the stages of establishing co-operatives and how women have realised these projects. Many women coming from abroad have told us that they wanted to realise such projects in their own countries. This is another achievement for us. This achievement is not only ours, but also belongs to all women who are part of the worldwide resistance.
”We carried out a women’s revolution in NE Syria,” she added. “But thousands of women are still seen as slaves throughout the Middle East. Our aim is for all women to create their own independent, free economy. Our aim is to establish a world where women rule themselves.”