Zilan 19 years old | Photo: Sonja Hamed

FRONT LINE | Meet the Kurdish women fighting for freedom against Isis.

Fighting for an independent Kurdish state in the northern part of Syria, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) has been deploying female fighters to defend against the threat of Isis and al-Qaeda. Armed with Kalashnikovs and posted to the Iraqi border, these young women are a sign that times are changing in these parts of Syria.

These women are at the forefront of re-establishing Kurdish culture in parts of Syria that were once governed by a strict regime. Schools are now teaching Kurdish, newspapers are being printed in Kurdish and moves towards gender equality can be seen right the way across Kurdish territory – including a female police force and the integration of women into the political system, too.

Just a couple of years ago, Kurdish women wouldn’t have been seen out of the house here. But since the female unit of freedom fighters was established and as the Syrian regime has been pushed back, this has completely changed. Now women march and dance in the streets wearing traditional Kurdish dress and waving the flags of their home nation in honour of their cause: an autonomous Kurdistan.