IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Peace is a woman and woman is peace

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IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Peace is
a woman and woman is peace
15 May 2013

By Kathy Thiessen

“The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like
a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
(Isaiah 58:11)

The high mountain ridges, still covered in a blanket of snow, showed the
border between Iraq and Iran.  A tiny newborn goat, with the umbilical
cord still drying on its belly, wandered around by our legs. The sound of an
artesian spring was background to our conversation.

There we were, sitting around a table under bright green grape leaves
and infant grape clusters that protected us from the hot sun.

 
  Kurdish house in the Qandil Mountains

Unusually,
the women outnumbered the men. However, even more unusual was that the first question
came from a woman to me. “I am asking you because you are a woman,” she said.
“Violence against women happens all over the world. How do you think that we
can change that?” I admitted that making changes on such a huge issue was
beyond me.  I said that we must work at the level of helping one man to
see things differently or empowering one woman at a time. She agreed.

I marvelled that I was able to be here on this awesome spring day,
having a conversation with a Kurdish woman who had lived and fought in these
mountains for 21 years.  I knew that our ideology and methods were quite
different, but I felt a kinship with her. Her organisation strives to provide
equal opportunity for all, regardless of gender. She had been trained extensively
right alongside men.   She was secure in her beliefs that the way to
start making a difference in the world was working on attitudes and the treatment
of women. “We should all work together, young and old women. We need to include
more women in these reforms because the peace is a woman and woman is peace.”

We spoke of hope for an end to the conflict, when a peace agreement with
Turkey really materializes. Her dream is to someday go beyond the borders of
Iraq, to speak to people of other nations, to train women, and to share her
knowledge and experience. When we asked how she saw peace, she gestured and
looked around at her house, the plot of land, the grape vines, the spring, and
the goat. She said, “When everyone in the world has this.”

The conversation was far too short, but the sun was sinking lower in the
sky and we had a long drive ahead over a rocky road. As we hugged and kissed
goodbye she commented,” You should be a leader in a women’s organisation.” 
I received her affirmation and treasure it.

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