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Women’s cooperatives: A glimpse into Rojava’s economic model

By: 
Hawzhin Azeez

Zahra Shexo bends over her sewing machine and meticulously, but expertly allows the course material to run through her fingers and under the pointed needle of the machine. The sound of over a dozen women’s laughter and conversation intermixes with the repetitive mechanical sounds of the sewing machines in the large room. The sewing room is a Kaleidoscope of different coloured materials, samples, threads and other necessary sewing items. Zahra is the current administrator of the textile cooperative Amargi in Kobane city.

For outsiders, the Rojava Revolution came to international attention in 2014 when the terrorist organisation ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) attempted to take over Kobane city. An epic battle ensued. Outnumbered and lacking the heavy weaponry of their opponents, the tense resistance played out with the Kurdish YPG-YPJ fighters successfully defending and liberating Kobane on the 26th of January 2015. However, even before the uprising against Assad in 2011 during the Arab Spring wave, and the subsequent Rojava revolution in 2012 which attracted ISIS’s wrath, efforts were being made in the Kurdish north, known as Rojava, to implement networks of grassroots assemblies. The Amarge cooperative is one such example. Established over 6 years ago, the cooperative has been running consistently with the aim of providing women in Kobane with economic opportunities. Currently, according to Zahra, 17 women work in the cooperative.