Between Nationalism and Women’s Rights: The Kurdish Women’s Movement in Iraq

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Nadje Al-Ali null

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Nicola Pratt null

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This article explores an aspect of the micro-politics of the ‘new Iraq’ by examining the understudied topic of the Iraqi-Kurdish women’s movement. Drawing on interviews with women activists in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, we describe and analyze their activities, strategies and objectives in relation to Kurdish nationalism and feminism, focusing on the period since 2003. Rather than conceptualizing nationalism and feminism as either contradictory or compatible frames of reference for these activists, we understand debates among women activists as attempts to ‘narrate’ the Kurdish nation, particularly in response to the realities of the ‘new Iraq’. We contend that nationalism per se is not an obstacle to women’s rights in Iraqi Kurdistan. Rather, it is the failure, until now, of women activists to engage with the disjuncture between nation and state that could limit the achievements of their struggle.

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