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Jineology (Kurdish: jineolojî), the "science of women", or "women's science" (otherwise referred to as "Kurdish feminism") is a form of feminism and gender equality advocated by Abdullah Öcalan, 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.
Jineology is one of the governing ideologies of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava.
Etymology and definition
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.
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."
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. 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.
Jineology in practice
Jineology is a fundamental tenet of the progressive KCK variety of Kurdish nationalism 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). Consequently, women make up 40% of the Kurdish militia fighting in the Rojava conflict 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. Women fight alongside men in the People's Protection Units (YPG) as well as in their own Women's Protection Units (YPJ). In the YPJ, women study the political theories of Öcalan, on whose ideology the foundations of the group were laid. 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 and leading offices in politics, universities police or military are co-chaired by a man and a woman. 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.
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. 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." Jineology is one of a range of courses offered at Kongreya Star's women's academy.
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), and where female victims of domestic abuse are helped. In the very traditional Kurdish society, a woman's role is to be subordinate to men.
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