Making a difference: co-operative development in Syria

How can UK co-ops support Northern Syria’s transition to a co-operative economy?

Throughout Co-operatives Fortnight 2018, we’re sharing some of the brilliant stories from UK and international co-ops which show the in action: how, where and why co-operatives can make a difference to you and your communities.

The Solidarity Economy Association has launched a series of workshops for UK co-ops wanting to find out how to support the transition to a co-operative economy in Northern Syria.

Taking place during the Co-operatives Fortnight, the Rojava Co-operative Solidarity workshop tour forms part of SEA’s Co-operative Economy in Rojava and Bakur project. The initiative aims to create active solidarity and connections between co-ops in the UK and Northern Syria. The association is also looking to rebrand the project into ‘Co-operation in Mesopotamia’ and launch a new website for it.

Northern Syria’s co-operative economy started growing as a result of the blockade imposed on the region. In 2012, following the Rojava Revolution, the Union of Cooperative Societies was established, with co-operative committees being set up in every region of Northern Syria. The idea of co-operative societies is also spreading across areas formerly dominated by Daesh [ISIS].

Related … A new co-operative economy: Democratic confederalism in Rojava and Bakur

Jo Taylor, project coordinator at the SEA, said: “Co-operatives currently make up 7% of the economy in Jazira, the largest region of Northern Syria, with women’s co-operatives making up 3%, despite never having been present in the region before. We’ve partnered with women’s economic structures in Rojava to build connections between co-ops there and in the UK, which will include a number of ways for UK co-ops to support the movement, for example by becoming a ‘sister co-operative’.”

The workshop tour will take place in five locations across the UK:

Sat 23 Jun – Learning Resource Centre at The City Clean Depot, with Free University Brighton

Tue 26 Jun – Makespace Oxford, with Solidarity Economy Association

Fri 29 Jun – Artefact Stirchley, with Birmingham Bike Foundry

Mon 2 Jul – Holyoake House, with the Co-operative College

Tue 3 July – Location TBC, with Leeds Bread Co-operative

Writer and activist of the Kurdish Women’s Movement, Dilar Dirik, said: “Solidarity is co-operative work. Supporting the revolutionary efforts in Rojava to create a solidarity-based economy for a communal, self-sustained society means to contribute to the development of a fundamentally different kind of ethical and political understanding of life. Building bridges between radical, ecological concepts of economy against capitalism’s systematic destruction of life itself is a historic struggle that everyone who does not accept domination, colonisation and exploitation as fate, should rally behind.”

  • For more information on the free Rojava Co-operative Solidarity Workshop Tour events, and to book, click here.