The Middle East could be described as having a faulty track record of women’s empowerment. However, in northeastern Syria, there exists a military group not only comprised entirely of women, but also equally revered by their community as their fellow male soldiers in other battalions.
Meet the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish YPG, or “People’s Protection Units.” The YPG and the YPJ make up the majority of the fighting force of Rojava, the self-proclaimed Kurdish state in Northern Syria.
The YPJ is unique as far as fighting groups go in that it is the sole female fighting group operating in Syria. Additionally, these ladies are not just soldiers in name only—au contraire, they are right on the front lines fighting Daesh, just like the boys.
Take this video from Twitter, in which a woman talks about being liberated by Kurdish forces during the Raqqa offensive. In the Tweet itself, both the YPG and the YPJ are commended for a good day’s work:
How the YPJ is portrayed on social media illuminates the Kurdish community’s view of them and the generally egalitarian approach when promoting the male and female fighting groups.
In addition to the above example is another video posted last week, in which a new military training center was established in a Kurdish-controlled district of Aleppo City:
Not only are women shown training alongside male soldiers, but the #YPJ hashtag stands proudly among the Tweet’s text.
Or how about this military spokeswoman briefing her audience of next steps to defeat Daesh at the recent Wrath of Euphrates press conference? (The Wrath of Euphrates campaign is a Kurdish counter-movement to the Turkish-backed, ‘Euphrates Shield’ invasion of Syria. It focuses on defeating ISIS and defending Syria from Turkey).
All in all, the YPJ are effective, important participants in the fight to liberate territory from Daesh, and nobody's denying it. Keep it up, ladies!
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