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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.

Hosted at the ICA on 30 August, and organised as part of In formation III, the event, Rojava Women’s Revolution: Poetry Reading + Live Exchange with Kongra Star , 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. 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.

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. A conversation will be led by the UK representative of Kongra Star, Rohash Shexo.

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.

Further discussion will follow, directed by artist Alda Terracciano. 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.


Rojava Women’s Revolution: Poetry Reading + Live Exchange with Kongra Star at the ICA | Thursday 30 August – Book tickets here.


Feature image: Kurdish women gather in the Kurdish city of Amuda in northeastern Syria in support of women’s rights in Rojava. Photo: Delil Souleiman (via Sufta)

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