The University of Rojava (UOR) was founded in Qamişlo in 2016 when the region was still at war. Since then the university has been developing as an alternative to the Syrian State’s universities.
The University of Rojava (UOR) is also offering an alternative to students who had to suspend their education due to war as well.
The goals of the university can be found on their website: “The foundation process of UOR is ongoing as it, on the one hand, takes the universal experiences in higher education as a model and on the other hand, it adopts the historical and social values and philosophy of Mesopotamia.”
One of the most inspiring departments of the University is the Jineology (Women studies) department. It is a part of the Languages and Social Studies Faculty and was founded in Qamishlo on 15th September 2017.
Jineology (the science of women) can be defined as a form of feminism, as advocated by the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and practised within the Kurdish women’s struggle.
The department aims to study women’s lives, situation, history of struggle, oppression, and exploitation, to question the male-dominated understanding of history and to rewrite it and also to achieve changes in the mentality of the society in the region.
To graduate from the Jineology department you need to finish 4 semesters divided into 2 years. So far many academics around the world have visited the department and it continues to be an exciting role model for other institutions in the Middle East.
Leyla Abdo is one of the instructors of the Jineology Department. She spoke to Jin News about their ongoing studies and achievements within the department so far.
“The Jineology Department is still in the process of formation and we experience the pride and excitement of laying the first stones of the science of women in our mother tongue” Abdo expresses her feelings about the department.
“From self-defense to the economy, from health to politics, we need women who are educated in all fields of life and we are aiming for that. But of course there is a long way to go to meet all these needs” she adds.
There are now 47 students attending the Jineology Department and women are also educated to be teachers for the Jineology classes in high schools the Autonmous Administration of North East Syria (AANES).
“9 of our first graduates are now teaching Jineology at high schools. This is also a first. Before the Jineology Department was established, there was a Jineology course in the high school curriculum. However, our teachers who taught Jineology in the past years did not have an opportunity to benefit from higher education programs. After the department is established, we also prepare Jineology teachers for all the high schools.”
Abdo continues : “The department aims to develop academic projects for the development of the science of Jineology within its program. Programs and discussions are also developed for academics from universities and departments who want to get to know or develop joint projects with us. There were very valuable academics from all over the world who came and visited, attended lectures and gave seminars here”
Abdo underlines the importance of the Jineology as follows: “It is a science developed within a society to solve the problems lived in that society, it is a science born in and of its society”
Abdo believes that Jineology is a tool for them to find out solutions for the problems they experience.
“As our society gets to know Jineology, the effects of Jineology on the solutions of social problems will increase.”
Abdo thinks that although there are many things that they should do, so far they have achieved a great success. The demand for courses in Arabic within the Jineology department could be an indicator for that.
“Arab women, even men, want to get to know Jineology more. This year, our four Arab students will learn Kurdish until next year and re-enroll in the department because they do not speak Kurdish. Our language of instruction is Kurdish, but spelling is intertwined with Arabic. We often come across the demand, ‘Let the Arabic section be opened as well.’ This makes us proud of what we are doing. In short, Jineology is a science that is viewed with interest, curiosity, and respect in the regions of Northern and Eastern Syria.”