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Fellow Seminar

26 April 2018

Dr. Ina Merdjanova will present her research proposal on the topic: "The Kurdish Women's Movement and the Struggle for Peace in Turkey" on 26 April 2018 (Thursday) at 16:30h.


My research looks at the Kurdish women's struggles for gender equality at the intersection of two diverse social movements in Turkey: the Kurdish national movement, on the one hand, and the Turkish feminist movement, on the other. My major argument is that the Kurdish women's movement has powerfully challenged the status and traditional roles of women both in the Kurdish community and in the larger Turkish society. Furthermore, Kurdish female activists have played a central role in the country-wide feminist struggles for peace, wherein they have insisted on a definition of peace which goes beyond the cessation of the bloody conflict between the Turkish state and the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and includes democratization through decentralization, regional autonomy, inclusive citizenship and equal rights for women and all minorities.

After a brief overview of the Kurdish question in Turkey, I will look at the Kurdish Women's Movement and its different components: the guerrilla women within the PKK, on the one hand, and the Kurdish female political and civil society activists, on the other. I will then focus on the cooperation between Kurdish and Turkish feminists in several areas: the struggles against the violence towards women, and the advancement of women's education and employment. I will argue that the Kurdish-Turkish women's peace advocacy, which will be discussed in the context of the recent peace process (2013-15), marked a new stage in the cross-ethnic feminist cooperation and solidarity. It brought together numerous women's organizations on an unprecedented scale. Most importantly, it articulated powerful intersectional visions of peace as the termination of what Cynthia Cockburn calls "gendered continuum of violence"-that is the violence which permeates the life of women and marginalized groups in both conflict and non-conflict zones and which is embedded in militarized patriarchal systems of power. Despite the collapse of the peace process and the dismal political developments in Turkey since mid-2015, and in spite of the attendant reversal of most of the political and social achievements of the Kurdish Women's Movement, the women's common struggle for peace has continued in limited forms.


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