Badass Kurdish Women
With Dilar Dirik, Mustafa Can and Hannah Helseth
There is an element of orientalism in the Western gaze on Kurdish women, a «Western fascination with ‘badass’ Kurdish women», claims activist and Cambridge graduate student Dilar Dirik.
Kurdish women have a long and proud tradition as soldiers, and they have fought fiercely against Iran, Turkey and Saddam Hussein previously, and in later years against IS in Syria. Female representation and participation in the political movement is also strong. But what is the status of gender equality and women’s rights in Kurdish families, societies and in the diaspora? How are women affected by a traditionally strict code of honour? And how does the Western gaze affect the Kurdish struggle for liberation?
The Swedish author Mustafa Can has reported from Kobane, and is among those who have become fascinated by the Kurdish female soldiers. His stage play War has a female face will be staged at the Stockholm City Theatre. He has also portrayed a Kurdish woman in his 2008 best selling book telling the story of his mother.
Now Dirik and Can talks about Kurds and gender with Hannah Helseth, author and phd candidate at the Centre for Gender Studies, University of Oslo.