The YPJ is an acronym whose translation means “Women’s Protection Units.” It is the all-female brigade of the YPG, the armed forces of the Syrian region of Kurdistan, known as Rojava (meaning Western) Kurdistan.
YPJ and ISIS
The YPJ have been instrumental in the battle to take back control of Kobani from ISIS. These women fighters know that, if captured, they will be raped and killed; therefore they fight knowing that they must succeed in battle or become a suicide warrior to avoid being captured. The YPJ is also thought to be feared by ISIS, who believes that if a female kills them in battle, it will be a disgrace and dishonor, and will prohibit them from entering paradise.
Thanks to their role in liberating Kobani in Syria, the YPJ have captured the attention of both socialist and non-socialist feminists around the world. Additionally, thanks to the YPJ, millions of people around the world have been introduced to the plight of the Kurds in Syria and beyond.
YPJ in Iraq
The YPJ also played a big role in rescuing and providing security to the Yazidi community who were trapped on Mount Sinjar in Iraq in 2014. This rescue helped save thousands of Yazidis who had taken refuge on Mount Sinjar and fought thirst and hunger for months, including a large population of women and children.