With the aid of women’s rights groups and volunteers, a group of women in Syria have created a self-sustainable feminist commune outside of the structures of patriarchy and capitalism.
The village of Jinwar—a word that roughly translates to “woman’s space” or “women’s land” in Kurdish—is in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (also known as Rojava), which became a de facto autonomous region in 2012 amid the ongoing Syrian Civil War. According to Kurdish news outlet ANF News, the village is primarily for women whose families suffered violence by ISIS, which massacred Yazidi men and raped and tortured thousands of women. Widows and women without families can all apply to live there as well. Jinwar opened on International Day Against Violence Against Women, November 25, with 30 homes, a school, museum, and medical center.
A recent profile of the village in the Independent describes how the community runs:
The residents of Jinwar are kept busy by the work required to be self-sustainable. The group take turns cooking and eat all their meals together in a large communal kitchen. There are animals to tend to and a school for the children. The village regularly receives visitors from the local area, who come to learn about the ideas behind the project.
“I came here because I have five kids and I didn’t have an income or a house to live in,” one resident, Amira Muhammad, told the Independent. ISIS killed Muhammad’s husband, and when she moved back in with her parents, she was entirely dependent on them.
“Here they provide a lot of benefits like education for the kids, their living expenses. It is a nice village, most importantly, my kids like it,” she said. “We do our own farming, we plant trees. Every woman farms her own lot for her kids. We sell the harvest, and use the revenue to support our expenses.”
Another resident, 28-year-old Zainab Gavary, told the Independent: “Until women educate and empower themselves, there won’t be freedom.”
“There’s no need for men here,” she said, “our lives are good.”