Guns, Widows, & What You Don’t Hear About Syria: An interview with Margaret Owen

Bad Housekeeping interviewed Margaret Owen last week to speak about her experiences in Rojava, northern Syria, which she visited at the end of December on the invitation of the PYD.

Margaret Owen is the octogenarian director of NGO Widows for Peace through Democracy. I went to her house in London where she fed me baklava while showing me photos of her grandchildren & of the impossibly tiny boat on which she had crossed the Iraqi border the week before. For a woman whose organisation has ‘Peace’ in the title she gets a surprising glint in her eye whilst describing attractive women wielding semi-automatic weapons, and speaks at such a pace that I can only include a harshly reduced version of her conversation here – which is a shame because what she has to say gives an intriguing glimpse into international relations and the status of widows across the world. 

RB: So, you’ve just come back from Rojava [a Kurdish enclave in Northern Syria] – what did you learn?

MO: They’d really got a new way of promoting, guaranteeing and establishing gender equality in every aspect of life. The PYD– the main Kurdish political party in Syria –  have co-chairs, a man and a woman, in every single institution, organisation, association – whether it’s a hospital, medical, educational, military, police, councils, every single body is headed by a man and a woman. And that doesn’t mean that the woman chair only does women-things, she’s just a co-chair with the man. And I never saw anyone writing about Rojava, they were all writing about Syria and the opposition and al-Qaeda, but you never saw anyone really writing about what was happening within Rojava [..]

You can read the interview in full here.

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