by Paul Szoldra
The Kurdish Peshmerga has been battling the ISIS terror group
since it swept through much of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and one of
its most unique aspects has been the use of female fighters
on the front lines. Unlike most other militaries, the Peshmerga not only allows
women within its ranks, but they also serve shoulder-to-shoulder
with men in combat. According to Zack Bazzi, Middle East project
manager for Spirit of America, there are about 1,700 women
serving in combat roles within the Peshmerga.
"We are not meant to sit at home, doing housework," says Zehra, a commander who has served for 8 years.
"We are on the frontlines, fighting to defeat ISIS." In partnership with The Kurdish Project, Spirit of America
recently profiled female fighters serving on the front lines with
the Peshmerga — a Kurdish word for "those who face death." The
video interviews were published on a new website called "Females on
"From what I have observed, these women are patriots fighting to
defend their families and their homelands from the threat of
ISIS," Bazzi told Business Insider. "But there is no doubt that
they also want to send an unmistakable message, that, as women,
they have a prominent and equal role to play in their society." Bazzi told Business Insider that individual Peshmerga units
determine their own policies regarding the mixing of male
and female fighters. Still, he said, most women serving in male
units are accepted and fully integrated into the ranks.
"As a matter of fact, people in the region view it as a point of
pride that these women share an equal burden in defense of the
homeland," he said. The Females on the Frontline site features short interviews
with Sozan, Nishtiman, Kurdistan, and Zehra, four Peshmerga
soldiers who have served in different roles and in varying
lengths of duty. "On our team, we women are fighting along with the men shoulder
to shoulder on the front lines," says Nishtiman, a 26-year old
unit commander who has served for four years in the Peshmerga.
She fights alongside her alongside her husband and brother,
according to the site.