A women's revolution is taking place in Rojava, a self-governed region located in Northern Syria, bringing about a new bottom-up, stateless and democratic political model referred to as democratic confederalism. Groups of women are leading systems of communal social life involving councils, parties, cooperatives, academies and defence units, to structure society according to anti-sexist and non-patriarchal principles.
Organised as part of In formation III, this conversation will centre on sharing individual and collective experiences of the struggle, and opening up an exchange between publics in London and key actors in Rojava about the unfolding revolution and the practice of autonomous democracy.
Jaye Griffiths will read Rahila Gupta’s ‘Rubáiyát of Rojava’, a long poem in quatrains on the journalist’s experience and encounters in the region, providing an introduction to the movement and its political ideologies. This is followed by a Q&A with Gupta, plus live video conversations with Evin Swed, spokeswoman of Rojava’s Kongra Star, the confederation of women’s organisations; Asmin Roni, member of the YPJ self-defence force; and Hevidar Abdullah, manager at the women’s communal cooperative in Rojava. Conversations will be led by the UK representative of Kongra Star, Rohash Shexo, writer Rahila Gupta and artist Alda Terracciano.
Hevidar Abdullah was born in Al-Hasakah City in Jazeera Canton and studied Economics at University of Al-Hasakah. Ms Abdullah is currently spokesperson and in charge of the women's communal cooperative in Jazeera Canton where she manages the projects and development of women's communal cooperatives for a democratic, free and fairer economic system in Rojava – Democratic Federal of Northern Syria.
Jaye Griffiths is a well-known British stage, television and voiceover actress. She is currently appearing in Casualty.
Rahila Gupta is a freelance journalist and writer. Her work has appeared in openDemocracy, The Guardian and New Humanist among other papers, magazines and online platforms. Her books include, Enslaved: The New British Slavery; From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers: Southall Black Sisters; and Provoked; and Don't Wake Me: The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong (Playdead Press, 2013). She is co-authoring a book with Beatrix Campbell with the title Why Doesn’t Patriarchy Die? Gupta is a Royal Literary Fellow, and was writer in residence at Bromley by Bow Centre from 2000–2003.
Asmin Roni is from Kobani. She joined the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) at the beginning of the revolution and has been fighting against ISIS in Kobani, Manbij and Raqqa. Roni is currently the Commander of foreign fighters of the YPJ.
Rohash Shexo is a women’s rights activist and journalist originally from Rojava, West Kurdistan, Syria. She studied journalism and media in Syria and in 1997, began her journey dedicated to women’s empowerment. Prior to coming to the UK, Shexo worked as a Kurdish journalist in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Currently, she is a member of the management committee of the London-based non-profit women’s organisation, Roj Women Association (RWA). In recent years, Shexo has been a Kongra Star representative and focused her work on the women’s liberation movement.
Evin Swed was born in Qamishli and studied Economics and Business Management at Aleppo University. From 2007 to 2014, she worked as a maths teacher in schools and from 2014 to 2016, as manager of Ronahi TV. At the sixth Kongra Star conference, Swed was elected to her current position of spokeswoman of Kongra Star.
Alda Terracciano is an installation artist, dramaturg and academic researcher in performing and visual arts, digital economy, heritage and migration studies. She co-founded and directed Future Histories, the first archive of African, Asian and Caribbean performing arts in the UK, for which she devised and directed groundbreaking projects. As Artistic Director of ALDATERRA Projects, she opened her multisensory installation Streets of… 7 cities in 7 minutes (2012) during the London Olympic Games, and recently presented her latest immersive installation Zelige Door on Golborne Road, developed with members of the west London Moroccan community, at Tate Exchange.