2013-11-11 14.13.06(2)‘Many Women, Many Words’ is a collaboration between writers and researchers at the Soran University in the Kurdistan region and Lancaster University in the UK.

Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous state within Iraq, but during the rule of Saddam Hussein a deliberate programme of genocide was directed against the Kurdish people. Thousands of Kurdish villages were destroyed and many Kurds fled into neighbouring Turkey, Iran and Syria. The Kurdish Peshmerga forces mounted an armed resistance to Saddam, in which many women took part. But their stories of heroic resistance had their counterpoint in the stories of women who had to support their families in the absence of their menfolk, whose lives were often scrutinised and controlled by the Ba’ath Party, and whose displacement traumatised a generation.

‘Many Women, Many Words’ went in search of those other stories. We carried out interviews with 14 women who had lived through this period of turmoil, recording their testimony. Their stories document a period of profound change as the region moved from subsistence agriculture to oil production, from political and military domination to a tenuous democracy. The stories form a moving and textured account of life in Kurdistan in the late twentieth century; they are narratives of extraordinary bravery and resistance in which the smallest details are often the most telling.

Although most of the women gave permission for their names and photographs to be used, we have anonymised their accounts and used pseudonyms for them to offer added security. This website is intended for members of the public anywhere, but especially for members of the Kurdish diaspora who may find an echo of their own experience here.

This website is not intended merely as an archive of the women’s stories, but as an opportunity for any displaced person to leave an account of their own experience.