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The Syrian revolution of Politics, Feminism and Ethics by Safia Iman


This weekend I had the pleasure to stumble across a remarkable young lady called Elif Sarican a Kurdish rights activist who was discussing her direct experience having visited Syria, It was actually quite remarkable and humbling to be sipping tea whilst the rain lashed down outside in London and hear about what has happening in a corner of north-east Syria called Rojava miles away. Hope emerging despite the community having been subjected to one of the bloodiest wars of the 21st century. It is a story that defies the usual narratives about Syria or Assad, civil war or ISIS and is a story of the human ability to create and adapt despite adversity.

Over the past four years in the backdrop of war , the ‘Rojava Revolution’ has involved the implementation of a new form of community or non-state governance called ‘democratic confederalism’.

Democratic confederalism is a transformative ‘bottom-up’ model, based on ‘bottom-up’ confederated democracy across sectors of society through linked people’s assemblies. Women’s liberation, the notion of sustainable ‘ecological society’, a sustainable co-operative economy and ethnic pluralism are among its pillars. A fundamental idea underlying democratic confederalism is that social and ecological crises are two sides of the same coin, and any worthwhile solution must aim to reconcile them in practice.

Having heard Elif talk about what she observed it became clear that this was indeed a political and ecological revolution based on transformational systemic change; a model also that the rest of the world can learn from. A revolution that very consciously places women at both centre and as key to both political and military decision-making. Women often leading the fight on the frontline and sacrificing their lives against ISIS.

This is all happening in Rojava following the demise of the Assad regime in 2012, Kurdish people began a project of self-government and equality for all races, religions and women and men. Elif had visited the international commune in Rojava to research about what was happening there. She talked of women led communes, youth assemblies and community assemblies. The re-imagination and creative thinking involved the birth of an ethical system is something that should be applauded; yet still little has been reported about the remarkable political experiment of Rojava.

From what was discussed it appeared to me to be a sign of what can happened and what ideas can emerge in difficult times if communities learn to think, communicate and create together.

Safia Iman

Founder and C.E.O of GCM International: A company promoting Ethical, Conscious and Transformative change in systems, organisations and business.

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