The 21st century women’s struggle gradually socialised and spread all over the world with a butterfly effect… The slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî will become a philosophy of life, a commonality and line of struggle for women in the 21st century
The repertoire of struggle, resistance, resurrection and existence of women, one of the greatest subjects of the history of thought and political activism of the last century, has created the possibilities of a new sociality that includes the liberation of peoples, societies and men. This struggle of women, who have been tried to be isolated from daily life, science, art and the public sphere throughout history, continues today with different methods and tools all over the world.
The patriarchal wheel, which denies women’s existence, treats them as exceptional beings, and bases their lineage on gods created for men, has always seen women as objects of domination and has damaged their entire existence down to their souls. Against all this, women have been in an uninterrupted struggle for existence. Despite ruptures, genocide, harassment, and rape, they have been accused of their existence for a significant part of history. Goddesses against gods, queens against kings, slaves against lords, landless against landowners, oppressed against oppressors, nuns against priests, revolutionary women against tyrants and despots have always thrown a spanner in this patriarchal wheel.
Beginning in the 19th century, women’s consciousness and the development of feminist movements led to the emergence of organised structures against the patriarchal order. From religious discrimination to male violence, a diverse, dynamic and rapid practice of struggle against the social and traditional normative structure developed. Against this disadvantageous normative order, women continued to insist on defending their rights. This insistence on making themselves the subjects of their own actions, discourses and preferences, together with the spreading wave of enlightenment, gave a great impetus to the search for equality and rights defence in all areas of society, especially landowners, factories and all social areas.
As it is known, the global women’s movement has gradually gained strength since the beginning of the 20th century in order to demand equal working hours across nations and the right to vote and be elected. In the interim period between World Wars I and II, women, who were present in many fields from science to art, from cinema to politics, achieved very important gains as if they were preparing for the 21st century. As a legacy of the 20th century, which was full of great costs and sufferings, the 21st century women’s struggle gradually socialised and spread all over the world with a butterfly effect. Today, from Latin America to Africa, from the Far East to Europe, from Australia to the Middle East, we witness women demonstrating their presence with melodies, halay and dances, laughter and sorrow, joyful and angry shouts.
This creative activity, which flows from women’s struggle, persistence and inspiring dynamism, has travelled across continents, sometimes turning into a sudden revolt, sometimes into a glorious resistance. With anti-women or misogynist policies, even women living in the remotest parts of the world and unaware of the evils and inequalities have been criminalised by being labelled as the victims and sufferers of these practices. Therefore, the only thing left for women to do is to rebel, revolt and cry out on behalf of all humanity.
The women-led resistance and outcry in Iran today is an expression of the women’s resistance in other continents of the world, which is based on and mirrors the historical legacy of women’s struggle. In short, this resistance is the motto of “don’t let anyone oppress you” and “defend yourself”. Therefore, the reality of being in defence or resistance here is to struggle against authority, oppression and power based on one’s own subjective experience and power. As Foucault mentioned in the seventies, resistance and power are always interrelated phenomena. In other words, where there is power, there is resistance and the struggle that carries it. Therefore, as Foucault states, the concepts of “struggle” and “resistance” are intertwined phenomena.
In order to challenge the power relationship, it is necessary to avoid resistance, because power is not different from resistance and is a concept that gains meaning with it. In other words, where there is power, there is already resistance. From this point of view, it is both essential and legitimate for women to create mechanisms of resistance against oppression and to engage in struggle.
In 2011, with the Syrian war, the Rojava revolution, a women’s revolution emerged from the peoples who built a new and common life with their own strength, became a model for the whole Middle East. The regional powers, which from time to time backed ISIS and from time to time patronised jihadist elements such as ISIS, tried to destroy Kurds and women in Kobanê in order to strangle the revolution with jihadist groups in order to eliminate the gains of women who tore the dark history of the Middle East. In Rojava, women put up a relentless resistance against ISIS gangs and this resistance went beyond Kobanê and inspired the whole world. Women were forced to wear black sheets, locked in houses and enslaved. When they were liberated by Rojava women in Raqqa, the whole world witnessed the moment when those women took off their black sheets and set them on fire. In Rojava, it was the women who waged the greatest struggle against ISIS and similar anti-human organisations. Building self-defence mechanisms from Kobanê to Raqqa, women also developed the women’s revolution as one of the important architects of the construction of a democratic and free society.
This struggle, which came to life in Rojava with its inspiration, dynamism and practice, gradually spread beyond Rojava. One of the most concrete outputs of this is the struggle of the Yazidi people and Yazidi women, who live in Shengal, who are in constant contact with neighbouring villages and neighbouring villages, and who live in such peace with the world, but are subjected to the greatest massacres. Women were the target of the massacre carried out by the barbaric ISIS on 3 August 2014. In the first three days of the massacre, more than 7 thousand people were massacred, more than 10 thousand women and children were abducted and more than 300 thousand people were displaced. The braided hair that women left behind when they threw themselves off the rocks to avoid surrendering is still alive and clear in our memory even today. We know the symbolisation of hair from the braids of Yazidi women. The fate of many women who were kidnapped, detained, harassed, raped and sold in slave markets in front of the eyes of the whole world is still uncertain. Although this brutality is often ignored, just as a people that has passed through 72 edicts against it has created itself from the ashes each time, they strengthened their organisation under the leadership of women in Shengal and defended their cities and themselves.
In 2019, women in the South American country of Chile rose up en masse against the existing male state violence. The revolt of the Chilean feminist movement spread all over the world with the dance “Las Tesis”. In Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, under the Sharia law declared by the Taliban government, women and girls were prevented from receiving education, participating in politics, social and public life and speaking out; women who did not comply with these rules had their fingers cut off, were forced to wear a burqa or were executed. With the removal of the Taliban from power, women and girls regained their right to education thanks to the struggle of women. However, after all these years, the Taliban reconquered Afghanistan and declared sharia and the sharia system, with all its aspects that ignore women, is being implemented today and is being tried to be imposed on women. However, despite all the difficulties, women have not left the streets and continue to struggle for their rights. The resistance of women also gives hope to the people of Afghanistan.
Iran is a country with a mullah regime and executions are constantly on the agenda. In Tehran, the capital of Iran, a Kurdish woman, 22-year-old Jîna Mehsa Emînî, was detained and tortured to death on the grounds that she “did not comply with the rules of veiling”. After Jîna’s murder, women’s anger and objections spread everywhere with the slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî.
The slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî, which marked the protests, has been symbolised by the people and women of Iran as a whole. The fact that this slogan is so widely recognised is the fact that Jin Jiyan Azadî is not just a slogan, it has a meaning beyond that. This slogan has shown the extent to which the Iranian peoples and Iranian women need a democratic and libertarian society and how this need can only be fulfilled through the emancipation of women.
The emphasis, message and quest that emerged around this slogan actually points to the philosophy and paradigm of women’s quest, struggle and resistance since the beginning of the 21st century. This paradigm is a refined version of the paradigm put forward by Mr Abdullah Öcalan in the Middle East. The slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî, in terms of its power of influence and diffusion, actually transforms both men and society. There is a philosophical background that takes this slogan beyond a slogan, transforms existing social codes and changes the given mentality. This background is currently expressed in Jin Jiyan Azadî.
The developments that have emerged under the leadership of women in Iran, which have inspired and given hope to other social dynamics in the past 45 days, are changing both men and society. This change evolves into an alternative and founding motto with the slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî. In this respect, the slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî is a holistic slogan that complements this change, this quest. It signifies life, woman and liberation in the combination of these two. It shows that there can be no society without women, and that no life is possible without society. Woman is the philosophy of life, without woman there can be neither democracy nor freedom. Woman is life, and only with a life based on woman can freedom find its meaning and expression.
The slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî and what is signalled and expressed around it will become the philosophy of the 21st century. The slogan Jin Jiyan Azadî is a guide to the kind of life women want and how they should be organised, and will become a philosophy of life, a commonality and line of struggle for women in the 21st century.
The source and inspiration of this line of struggle lies in the developments in the Middle East, especially in the last 11 years, and of course in the practice of the Rojava experience.
Angela Davis, who works on feminism, Afro-American studies, critical history, Marxism, popular music and the philosophy and history of penal systems, spoke at a panel discussion in Berlin on the role of Kurdish women in the revolutionary struggle. “Kurdish women have led the way for a very long time and made us realise that there can be no human liberation without the liberation of the women of the world, and I think we all benefit from this leadership,” Davis said.
In the 21st century, the women’s struggle has become a socialised struggle with a butterfly effect. Wherever we are in the world, we women express ourselves and carry out our struggle, sometimes with our rebellion, sometimes with our songs, sometimes with our slogans, sometimes with our dance, sometimes with our haircuts, sometimes with our hairdos, sometimes with our organised struggle; but we are definitely influenced by each other. Sometimes this influence turns into a common struggle, sometimes into rebellion and this rebellion evolves into social resistance. But generally these rebellions and resistances erupt after the practices of fascist regimes and the genocides they inflict. Perhaps we prefer to live in our own village or town, oblivious to all the evils in the world, but we see rebellion and struggle against these evils as a right and we are growing the struggle.