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Jineology (Kurdish: jineolojî), the "science of women", or "women's science" (otherwise referred to as "Kurdish feminism")[1] is a form of feminism and gender equality advocated by Abdullah Öcalan,[2][3][4] the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the broader Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) umbrella. From the background of honor-based religious and tribal rules that oppress women in regional societies, Öcalan said that "a country can't be free unless the women are free", and that the level of women's freedom determines the level of freedom in society at large.[3]

Jineology is one of the governing ideologies of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava.

Etymology and definition[edit]

Sakine Cansız was one of the co-founders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and has been called "a legend" and "the most prominent and most important female Kurdish activist."[5]

In Kurdish, the word jin means "woman", but also comes from the root jiyan, meaning "life".[6]

In Liberating life: Women's Revolution (2013), Abdullah Öcalan writes:

The extent to which society can be thoroughly transformed is determined by the extent of the transformation attained by women. Similarly, the level of woman’s freedom and equality determines the freedom and equality of all sections of society. . . . For a democratic nation, woman’s freedom is of great importance too, as liberated woman constitutes liberated society. Liberated society in turn constitutes democratic nation. Moreover, the need to reverse the role of man is of revolutionary importance.[7]

The PKK's Women’s Liberation Ideology describes jineology as "a fundamental scientific term in order to fill the gaps that the current social sciences are incapable of doing. Jineology is built on the principle that without the freedom of women within society and without a real consciousness surrounding women no society can call itself free."[8]

Öcalan has said "a country can't be free unless the women are free", that the level of woman's freedom determines the level of freedom in society at large.[3] To put into context the environment this comes from, violent oppression of women is prevalent in both traditional Kurdish culture and in the region in general. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is the most extreme emanation of Namus-based subjugation of women.

On a wider scale, proponents of jineology consider capitalism to be anti-women and thus jineology to be inherently anti-capitalist.[2]

Jineology in practice[edit]

Asia Ramazan Antar, well-known Kurdish feminist and YPJ fighter

Jineology is a fundamental tenet of the progressive KCK variety of Kurdish nationalism[6] and as such central to the Kurds' social revolution taking place in Rojava, their de facto autonomous region in northern Syria, led by the KCK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD).[6] Consequently, women make up 40% of the Kurdish militia fighting in the Rojava conflict[6] against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkish Armed Forces, and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army in the Syrian Civil War.[2][3][9] Women fight alongside men in the People's Protection Units (YPG) as well as in their own Women's Protection Units (YPJ).[2][3] In the YPJ, women study the political theories of Öcalan,[2] on whose ideology the foundations of the group were laid.[3] There exists also a political gender equality, which in practice means that in Syria in the areas governed by the PYD, the local political councils are comprised with at least 40% of each sex[10] and leading offices in politics, universities police or military are co-chaired by a man and a woman.[11] In Turkey the political parties HDP and BDP both also practice the political gender equality. Both parties have co-chairs of a man and a woman.[12]

Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the ideology

The Jineology-based agenda of "trying to break the honor-based religious and tribal rules that confine women" is controversial and overcoming controversy in conservative quarters of society in northern Syria.[13] The development of Jineology is one of five pillars in the Kurdish women's movement in Rojava with the Kongreya Star umbrella organization, focused "on protecting each other, resisting ISIL and building an egalitarian community in the middle of a warzone."[14] Jineology is one of a range of courses offered at Kongreya Star's women's academy.[14]

Jineology is taught in Kurdish community centres throughout Turkey and Syria where women learn about female emancipation and self-defence (in relation to honour killings, rape and domestic violence[14]), and where female victims of domestic abuse are helped.[2] In the very traditional Kurdish society, a woman's role is to be subordinate to men.[2]

The Kurdish Committee of Jineology is a committee of and for women, founded by the PKK, that is committed to building democracy, socialism, ecology and feminism.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://deepgreenresistancegreatbasin.org/resistance-culture/radical-feminism/jineology-kurdish-feminism/
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Argentieri, Benedetta (30 July 2015). "These female Kurdish soldiers wear their femininity with pride". Quartz (publication). Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Argentieri, Benedetta (3 February 2015). "One group battling Islamic State has a secret weapon – female fighters". Reuters. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Argentieri, Benedetta (8 February 2015). "Women vs. the Islamic State: The Kurds have a secret weapon against brutal jihadists — female fighters". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 26 November 2016. 
  5. ^ Letsch, Constanze (10 January 2013). "Sakine Cansiz: 'a legend among PKK members'". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ a b c d Lau, Anna; Baran, Erdelan; Sirinathsingh, Melanie (18 November 2016). "A Kurdish response to climate change". openDemocracy. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  7. ^ Abdullah Öcalan (2013). Liberating life: Women’s Revolution (PDF). International Initiative Edition. p. 57. ISBN 978-3-941012-82-0. 
  8. ^ Düzgün, Meral (July 2016). "Jineology: The Kurdish Women's Movement". Journal of Middle East Women's Studies. Duke University Press. 12 (2): 284. 
  9. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-ria-turkey-rebels/fsa-commander-says-25000-syrian-rebels-back-turkish-force-in-syria-idUSKBN1FA0OK
  10. ^ Mogelson, Luke (2017-10-30). "Dark Victory in Raqqa". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-01-29. 
  11. ^ Rakka, Petra Ramsauer,. "Augenschein im Utopia der syrischen Kurden | NZZ am Sonntag". NZZ am Sonntag (in German). Retrieved 2018-01-29. 
  12. ^ Nordland, Rod (2016-12-07). "Crackdown in Turkey Threatens a Haven of Gender Equality Built by Kurds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-29. 
  13. ^ "Syrian Kurds tackle conscription, underage marriages and polygamy". ARA News. 15 November 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c Clarke-Billings, Lucy (6 October 2016). "The Women Leading a Social Revolution in Syria's Rojava". Newsweek. New York City. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  15. ^ Maria Sáenz, Charlotte (18 March 2015). "Women Up in Arms: Zapatistas and Rojava Kurds Embrace a New Gender Politics". The WorldPost. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 


  • Liberating life: Women's Revolution. Cologne, Germany: International Initiative Edition, 2013. Abdullah Öcalan. ISBN 978-3-941012-82-0.[n 1]
  • Killing the Male. Abdullah Öcalan.
  1. ^ A PDF of the book is available here at the International Initiative website

External links[edit]