Iranian Kurdish Women Seek a Voice

By Ava Homa:

Oslo, NORWAY—The fourth Kurdish Iranian Women Conference was held this weekend in the capital of Norway.

In a two day gathering, Kurdish women from across Europe, North America and Middle East came together to review the history of women’s movement and discuss its continuity.

The conference has a central committee, mainly based in Stockholm, that organizes and seeks funding for the yearly conferences. So far it has been held in Sulaimanieh, Stockholm, London and Olso.

Goli Ghbadi, one of the founding members of the conference explains that in each of these cities, an organizing committee volunteers to help plan and shape the gathering.

“Unfortunately, Iranian Kurdish women’s voice is not heard. We are ignored in the Iranian women’s movements as well as the Kurdish women’s concerns. We have our own history, issues and situations that need close study,” Golnar Ghobadi, another founding member says.

This year’s speakers were invited from Europe, North America and Iran to share their thoughts and ideas. The activist, Parvin Zabihi and writer, Simin  Chaichee were unable to travel from Iran because of visa complications.

Ms. Chaichee, however, was able to send her speech on the history of women’s NGOs in the Kurdish region of Iran, through a video. She was later virtually present in the room to answer the audience’s questions.

Although thankful to technology for making oversea presentations possible, the organizers expressed concern that every year some of their speakers are unable to travel from Iran which makes the cooperation between local and diaspora women challenging.

In this conference, the significant role Kurdish female fighters in Kobani play to save the city from a massacre was praised and discussed.

Even though the participation of women in the fight for liberation is not new—some of the attendants and organizers were fighters at some point—it is admirable that the world has finally come to realize this through Kobani women.

Dr. Motasem Tatahi, lecturer in Regent’s University of London talked about the role the economy has played in women’s liberation movement around the world, especially in the United States. He emphasises that Kurdish women’s voice would be better heard once they increase their role in the economy of their societies.

Nahid Mokri, discussed the role religion has had in subjugating women and Sophie Essmat reviewed the history of Kurdish feminism, its conflict with nationalism and its current situation. Other speakers discussed self-empowerment and other goals and obstacles of Kurdish women.

Shahin Talebani, the popular singer from Sanandaj, who had to sing under a pseudonym for years, shared her life story and the conference ended with her performance.

Ava Homa is a Kurdish-Canadian writer is author of ‘Echoes from the Other Land’ which was nominated for the the world’s largest short story award Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Ava has two Masters’ degrees one in English and Creative Writing, another in English Language and Literature. ‘Echoes from the Other Land’ has a running theme of resistance by modern Kurdish women. The stories are told on a universal scale, depicting human endurance, desire and passion. Ava’s writings have appeared Windsor Review and the Toronto Star. She was a writer in Iran, and university faculty member. In Toronto, Ava writes and teaches Creative Writing and English in George Brown College. For more information please visit www.AvaHoma.com

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