Kurdish women in peshmerga forces, Erbil Kurdistan
Erbilia Online Magazine - Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Kurdish Women in Peshmerga Forces


Brave Women Peshmerga who Fight against ISIS

We, Kurds, have always been proud of our brave Peshmerga fighters who are the ones to guarantee our country’s safety and security and our national pride. Their name “Peshmerga” means “those who face death” and was given to them by the Kurdish writer Ibrahim Ahmad in the late 1940s when the Peshmerga fighters became the official army of the Kurdistan Region under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani, the father of our President, Mr. Massoud Barzani, and grandfather of our Prime Minister Mr. Nechirvan Barzani.

Since the Peshmerga forces were established in the 1920s, almost every family in Kurdistan has had one or more Peshmerga fighters to defend our homeland against various threats. At times, they have suffered a lot of hardships on the Kurdish mountains, or under the scorching sun in the plains, risked their lives innumerable times, while some of them were killed in the battlefield. Those are the ones stories or songs are written about and the ones our sinsere gratitude goes to.

But it seems that the Peshmerga glorious history repeats itself in our times as the world is astonished by their bravery, their accomplishments and the way they are fighting against the ISIS militants. In a recent interview with the Hayat Magazine, President Massoud Barzani praised the bravery of the 800 killed Peshmerga fighters who martyred to defend the independence of our region, killed about 3000 extremists and cleared 17 kilometers that were under ISIS control even though they did not have the heavy weapons that the ISIS insurgents had. The President also mentioned visiting a mother who had lost three sons in those battles and how talking to the bereaved mother broke his heart.

However, it’s not only men who join the Peshmerga forces. Hundreds of women of all ages and from all parts of Kurdistan have joined men fighters, thus attracting international support and admiration. All these women are volunteers, many of them are married with children, but all of them enjoy the full support of their families who are proud of their brave daughters, wives and mothers.

At first, female Peshmerga forces were used mainly to help with keeping civilians safe against potential terrorist attacks inside the Kurdistan Region, or they were placed at checkpoints, strategic buildings, or management positions. But after intense training, a lot of those women fighters were taken to the frontline, mainly in and around the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding areas. With their hair tied up under their caps and guns on their shoulders, they often fight together with the male troops. Female fighters are the big fear of the jihadists as, according to the Sharia, a Muslim fighter who is killed by a woman will never go to heaven.

At the same time, Kurdish women in war zones in Northern Syria take part in a large number of fierce fights against the ISIS, while in the summer of 2014, they helped Christian and Yazidi minorities who had to flee their towns and villages by climbing Mount Sinjar. It was with the invaluable help of women Peshmerga fighters that these people escaped death and were taken to safe refugee camps.


Photo Copyright of: Jan Sefti – Flickr