Asia Ramazan Antar was a feminist and a Women's Protection Units (YPJ) fighter
Asia Ramazan Antar was a feminist and a Women's Protection Units (YPJ) fighter

Jineology, the science of women, or women's science, is a form of feminism, of gender equality, advocated by Abdullah Öcalan,[1][2][3] the representative 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 confine women in Middle East societies, Öcalan said that "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.[2]

Jineology is part of democratic confederalism, a philosophy underpinning the governance of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

Etymology and definition

In Kurdish, the word jin (ژن) both means "woman" and comes from the root jiyan (ژیان), meaning "life".[4]

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.[5]

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (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."[6]

Öcalan has said "a country can't be free unless the women are free", the level of woman's freedom determines the level of freedom in society at large.[2] To put into context the environment this comes from, violent oppression of women exists in the region in general, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) being the most radical 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.[1]

Member of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) with a standard uniform
Member of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) with a standard uniform

Jineology in practice

Jineology is a fundamental tenet of the KCK's democratic confederalism[4] 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).[4] Consequently, women make up 40% of the Kurdish militia fighting in the Rojava conflict[4] against the Bashar al-Assad regime and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Syrian Civil War.[1][2] Women fight alongside men in the People's Protection Units (YPG) as well as in their own Women's Protection Units (YPJ).[1][2] In the YPJ, women study the political theories of Öcalan,[1] on whose ideology the foundations of the group were laid.[2]

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.[7] 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."[8] Jineology is one of a range of courses offered at Kongreya Star's women's academy.[8]

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[8]), and where female victims of domestic abuse are helped.[1] In the very traditional Kurdish society, a woman's role was to be subordinate to men.[1]

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.[9]


See also


  1. ^ A PDF of the book is available here at the International Initiative website


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Argentieri, Benedetta (3 February 2015). "One group battling Islamic State has a secret weapon – female fighters". Reuters. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c d Lau, Anna; Baran, Erdelan; Sirinathsingh, Melanie (18 November 2016). "A Kurdish response to climate change". openDemocracy. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  5. ^ Öcalan, Abdullah (2013). Liberating life: Women's Revolution (PDF). International Initiative Edition. p. 57. ISBN 978-3-941012-82-0.
  6. ^ Düzgün, Meral (July 2016). "Jineology: The Kurdish Women's Movement". Journal of Middle East Women's Studies. Duke University Press. 12 (2): 284.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. ^ "Syrian Kurds tackle conscription, underage marriages and polygamy". ARA News. 15 November 2016.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.