News of the killing of Nagihan Akarsel, a committed feminist activist and scholar, outside her home in Sulaymaniyah shocked the world on Tuesday morning.
Dozens of Akarsel’s friends and colleagues flooded social media with messages of their grief and anger at what appears to be the latest in a series of assassinations of prominent Kurdish leftists in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Much of the reporting on Akarsel’s death has focused on the identity of her killers, which as of Wednesday had still not been revealed to the public, and the political situation under which such an assassination took place. But Akarsel’s death will also leave large voids in her academic field of jineology – the feminist scholarly discipline that rose from the Kurdish political movement – and in her closely related activist work.
Akarsel was a fierce fighter for women’s rights in a region with a troubling record on the matter, and the scholar described her adopted hometown of Sulaymaniyah as having some of the greatest difficulties regarding gender equality.
Uncowed by these difficulties, Akarsel was a tireless and prolific scholar. She built up a solid reputation for her work on feminism and women’s journalism, and was a significant member of the Jineology Research Center and an editor of the journal Jineolojî, published in Turkish, Kurdish and English.
These themes and topics closely intersected with Akarsel’s journalistic work. At the time of her death, she was working on projects to establish a Jineology Academy and a women’s library in Sulaymaniyah for Kurdish women.
Watch Akarsel describing her ideas and work in her own words.