EU Project: Dr. Choman Hardi’s Interview on Dengi Geli Kurdistan

Funded by the EU, CGDS is producing podcasts, in Kurdish, Arabic and English to promote understanding of gender issues in the region. The following is one of the podcasts produced for the project.

On March 11th, 2020, Dr. Choman Hardi, Director of CGDS, had an interview with “Dengi Geli Kurdistan” for their program named “CV”. The interview focuses on the understanding of gender and how gender roles and stereotypes influence individuals within society. Dr. Hardi, additionally, elaborates on the stigmatization of the concept of gender and how its impacts have unraveled within the Kurdish community. The program begins with considering how children are raised within the Kurdish society. Hence, how society’s influence impacts and develops individuals. As children grow up they are expected to behave in a certain way due to their biological sex. For instance, as Dr. Choman recounts her experience as a teenager, she elaborates on how stereotypes have presented barriers for her and other girls as she was growing up. Her escape to these barriers and pursuit of freedom was through reading novels by writers such as, Oriana Fallaci (feminist writer), and others. 

The presenter asks, “As one grows up, we ask and question ourselves about who we are? Why am I a female? Why am I a male?” She answers by saying that “I can not control whether I am a male or a female, and I have no issue with being a woman. Rather my questions are: why are there obstacles for me, just because I am a woman. I have had to fight to see my friends, to participate in art classes. There are still situations where I am treated differently because I am a woman.”

As the interview progresses, Hardi talks about her experiences with holding Focus Group Discussions in the areas of Kurdistan that are not as exposed to the “Gender argument and theory.” She mentions that there have been times where she feels like she has left a battlefield after these discussions because certain people are not willing to listen to the conversation; pertaining to what gender is. There are also some that listen and want to understand. It is this understanding that develops society. The person does not have to concur with the main argument but as long as they perceive it, there is room for growth. 

The concept of gender has been misconstrued within the Kurdish Society. Media, religion, and other institutions of society have taken part in stigmatizing what the latter concept actually is. At times, it is this concept that is used to withhold the patriarchy; to maintain the stereotypes and gender roles that have been imposed and are in fact not valid.