Muslim Mothers in Ground Combat Against the Islamic State: Women’s Identities and Social Change in Iraqi Kurdistan

TitleMuslim Mothers in Ground Combat Against the Islamic State: Women’s Identities and Social Change in Iraqi Kurdistan
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsNilsson, Marco
JournalArmed Forces & Society
Volume44
Issue2
Date Published03/2017
Abstract

This study analyzes the experiences and identities of Kurdish women fighting the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq as part of the Peshmerga Army. The case is especially interesting because these women have engaged in ground combat and because there is an empirical gap in knowledge, especially concerning Muslim women’s experiences as soldiers. Wars bring great destruction but can also catalyze social change. While seeking balance between their identities as good mothers and professional soldiers, many Kurdish women see their war participation as a chance to increase their agency and improve equality in society, as combat operations create a window of opportunity to change perceptions of women’s roles. Women soldiers still face prejudices and feel that they must prove their worth as fearless warriors in ground combat. However, interviewed soldiers said that they were not striving for equality but equivalency, stressing those qualities that women in particular can contribute in battle.

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