A revolution holds much promise, particularly for women. They participate for two reasons -- as a member of an oppressed society, and as oppressed people
within that society. When the Arab Spring began over two years ago, Kurdish women noticed. In places like Egypt and Tunisia, women risked their lives to
join the men on the street, but although those movements successfully shook the political structures, they failed to create a permanent place for women in
the new system. It made Kurdish women nervous. Should their own revolution end, perhaps with these new talks, what would happen to them?
For Kurds in Turkey, the duration of the fighting is a cause for frustration and anger. But for Kurdish women, it may be the key to a lasting liberation.
In the thirty years since Kurdish women like Jiman have been fighting in the mountains, organizations focusing on the women have had time to take root in
the southeast and beyond. The women's movement is no longer simply hitchhiking alongside a greater Kurdish movement; it is its own issue.
The Diyarbakir office of KADEM, a women's organization, is often the site of heated debates. Diyarbakir can be a difficult place for women -- conservative
and even violent -- and helping those women is KADEM's priority along with protesting for Kurdish rights. The Kurdish women of KADEM, like most of the
Kurdish women I spoke to, see their organization as battling two dominant powers: the state and Kurdish men. They consider themselves evidence of their own
progress. "It is important to know that we've been fighting the Kurdish man's mentality, and we have broken that," a member told me during a meeting one
weekend. "In this region, women have more power than Kurdish men."
The most striking evidence of the progress Kurdish women have made in Turkey is, as Marcus said, the BDP. When two BDP officials were allowed to visit
Ocalan at the beginning of the recent talks, one of them was a woman -- Ayla Akat, the representative from Batman.
The women of the BDP in Diyarbakir -- who I met last year in their office -- echo KADEM. "The state and the men's mentality is the same thing: to oppress a
woman," Sultan, a member, says. "We believe that when the woman has freedom to think then the Kurdish question will be solved." Sultan works on women's
issues within the BDP, providing shelter for battered women, combating prostitution in Diyarbakir, and lobbying for women's rights with local politicians.
Zubeyde Zumrut, the president of the BDP in Diyarbakir, takes this further. In spite of everything, Zumrut thinks, Kurdish women are better off than
Turkish women. She mentions Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- his Islamic AKP party, his likening of abortion to a massacre, and his imploring of
Turkish women to have at least three children. Meanwhile, Kurdish politicians, she says, share the stage with their female counterparts, both at rallies
and in parliament. "The Kurdish woman is luckier than the Turkish woman," she tells me. "Kurdish women know that there's an organization to help them."