Kur­dish women: ‘First to wake up and last to go to bed’

The Kurdish Globe - - NATIONAL - By Dr.Anwer Ahmed Ibrahim

The roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of ru­ral women are dif­fer­ent to those of women in ur­ban ar­eas. This is ev­i­dent in Kur­dish com­mu­ni­ties as well. Th­ese roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties change along with ad­vances in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural stages of a com­mu­nity. The re­searcher, for ex­am­ple, re­mem­bers that dur­ing the six­ties of last cen­tury when he lived in a vil­lage, liveli­hoods de­pended on agri­cul­ture and live­stock. Agri­cul­ture in the Er­bil re­gion is rain fed. Wheat and bar­ley are the ma­jor agri­cul­tural crops in this area.

Dur­ing the har­vest of wheat and bar­ley in sum­mer, there were no har­vest­ing machines. Har­vest­ing was man­u­ally done by men. Women gath­ered what had been har­vested by the men. When the men were tired, they rested for a while but women, in­stead of rest­ing as the men did, pro­ceeded to care for the chil­dren tak­ing care of their hy­giene and feed­ing them. If a woman did not have chil­dren, she had to pre­pare tea and food for men.

They all worked in the field dur­ing the day. But af­ter re­turn­ing home women had to pre­pare din­ner, and bring water from the well, as well as clean the cat­tle. Women had to fetch water and fuel as well as feed the chil­dren.

For in­stance in the re­searcher’s vil­lage the water was salty and un­fit for drink­ing and it was the women’s duty to fetch water for the fam­ily from an­other area where the water was safe to drink. Some­times, they would be fetch­ing water un­til the mid­dle of the night so there would be drink­ing water for the next morn­ing. In the sum­mer and dur­ing har­vest sea­sons, women only got a few hours to sleep. This clearly shows that in the past women were the last in the fam­ily go to bed, and the first to wake up in the morn­ing.

But now life has changed and new tech­nolo­gies have been devel­oped, har­vesters are avail­able, water and elec­tric­ity net­works are also in place and the way of life in the vil­lages has also changed. How­ever, de­spite th­ese de­vel­op­ments, the di­vi­sion of labour and du­ties be­tween men and women is just the same as it has al­ways been. They are “first to wake up and the last to go to bed." So they have lim­ited time for other ac­tiv­i­ties out­side the home.

One can also say that women are en­gaged in mul­ti­ple roles in­clud­ing pro­duc­tive, re­pro­duc­tive, com­mu­nity work, and even de­fend­ing their so­ci­ety in times of ag­gres­sion. For in­stance in 1963 when the Ba’ath party first took over the reign of Iraq and de­cided to dis­place many of the in­hab­i­tants from cer­tain vil­lages in the re­gion, women fought along­side the men. De­spite th­ese mul­ti­ple roles, women are still sub­or­di­nate to men and have less say in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

A Kur­dish woman bak­ing bread in a vil­lage in Kur­dis­tan.

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