Zozan Simo, a member of the Yazidi Women’s Freedom Movement (TAJÊ) Coordination, sheds light on the remarkable transformation of Yazidi women following the devastating ISIS attack on their homeland of Sinjar in 2014.
ISIS believed that controlling women would ensure their success in Sinjar and, under the guise of honour, targeted them first, Simo said.
Prior to their self-organisation efforts, Yazidi women lived in seclusion with limited education and awareness of the world outside their homes. “Yazidi women were locked in their homes. They were between four walls. They couldn’t go outside,” Simo explained.
The situation changed dramatically after the liberation of Sinjar. Thousands of Yazidis returned home, reorganising themselves through councils and communes. Yazidi women began to organise under the democratic, ecological, and pro-women’s liberation paradigm inspired by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan. “During the resistance on Mount Sinjar, Yazidi women gathered and fought against ISIS,” Simo stated, highlighting the courage and strength that women drew from each other.
The establishment of TAJÊ marked a significant turning point. “TAJÊ was founded in 2017. After its establishment, it attracted the interest of all Yazidi women. Now it operates all over Sinjar,” Simo said. TAJÊ conducts activities for both young women and mothers, transforming women who were previously confined to their homes into active participants in political and social life.
Despite the lingering effects of ISIS’ 2014 genocidal campaign against their community, TAJÊ encourages women to join their cause rather than succumb to despair. “Women still feel the effects of the decree and face problems. Many women attempt to burn themselves. We try to reach those women. They should not end their lives; they should join TAJÊ and take their revenge,” Simo explained.
TAJÊ’s efforts aim to include all Yazidi women in councils and collaborative problem-solving, emphasising shared experiences and understanding. “We hope to organise all Yazidi women in councils and activities. We want every woman who faces problems to reach us, and we want to solve the problems together,” Simo concluded.