The Women Who Took on ISIS

“The story of America’s partners in the ISIS fight cannot be told without talking about the role of the women who led in battle against men who bought, sold and enslaved women,” journalist and author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon wrote on Medium in a recent piece introducing the stories of women taking on the Islamic State. “Talk to them and they will tell you they are not just battling ISIS, but the entire mindset that says women are worth nothing and matter none.”

Tzemach-Lemmon wrote the piece to introduce her next project, which will profile the “warriors, leaders, fighters” she met on the frontlines of the battle against ISIS.

This all-women military force sits at the center of a political experiment based upon the notion that true equality is possible for women and good for everyone. And brought to you by women who spent four years battling—at close range—men who bought, sold and enslaved women while leading men in that fight.

These young women—from Kurdish, Arab, Christian communities and beyond—have given all to beat ISIS. And on the heels of that fight, these young women created a real-life utopian push for equality in the last place most would expect to find it. On the ashes of the battle against the physical territory of the Islamic State, they launched an unlikely political experiment in which women play a leading role in all political bodies. And all this while almost no one outside its borders was taking note.

You can read the full piece on Medium.


Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|