Glorious March 8 celebration by YPJ fighters in Raqqa

Women's Defense Units (YPJ) fighters celebrated March 8 International Women's Day in Raqqa.


The Women's Defense Units (YPJ) held an event in Raqqa Canton as part of the March 8 International Women's Day celebrations.

The event was attended by Rojhilat Afrin, a member of the YPJ’s general command, as well as other female leaders. The celebration began with a minute of silence for the martyrs, followed by a military parade presented by YPJ fighters.

Rojhilat Afrin then gave a speech, in which she congratulated all women on this day and praised the role of women in Kurdistan, Shingal, Rojava, and North and Eastern Syria. She emphasized that by confronting the terrorism of ISIS and the Turkish occupation state, women have defended women all over the world, under the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom.”

The general command then distributed roses to the fighters as an expression of loyalty and love for them. A celebratory procession then marched through Raqqa’s streets, carrying YPJ flags and portraits of female martyrs. Chants resonated throughout, praising the heroism of women in the Rojava Revolution and North and Eastern Syria. The fighters gathered at the Naim square, where the YPJ declared the liberation of Raqqa, the so-called capital of the terrorist organization ISIS, in 2017. A statement was issued on the occasion of Women’s Day, emphasizing the escalation of the struggle until a safe and peaceful homeland is achieved.


Following the uprising of the so-called Arab Spring, the people of Rojava (Western Kurdistan, Northern Syria) took over the administration from the hands of the Syrian Regime and established a confederal, democratic self-administration. The YPJ is an all-female military self-defense force that was founded in 2013, with the aim of protecting the people and women of Rojava and their right to self-administration.

Since then, YPJ has participated in all military operations, fighting different Islamist groups such as Al-Nusra and ISIS. In 2014, when the city of Kobane was besieged and attacked by ISIS, the fighters of YPJ – alongside our all-gendered People’s Protection Units (YPG) – played an active role in liberating the city. During this time, YPJ fighters gained international attention for their courage and resistance, becoming a role model for women around the world fighting for freedom, self-determination and gender equality.

In 2014, ISIS took control over large parts of Iraq and Syria and installed a reign of terror. The jihadist militia made Raqqa the capital of its caliphate in 2014.  Located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, Raqqa is the fourth-largest city in Syria and has historical and cultural significance. Although it suffered great damage during the ISIS occupation, it has been trying to return to its former self and become a city of hope with reconstruction efforts in recent years. People living under ISIS occupation faced severe oppression and persecution as torture and executions became commonplace. Raqqa's infrastructure and historical artifacts were severely damaged. Women in particular were subjected to ISIS' imposition of slavery. They were forced to follow ISIS' mentality of religion and rules. Their right to education was taken away from them and they were completely excluded from business life. They were forbidden to leave their homes alone and walk around. Women suffered not only physically but also mentally. Raqqa was liberated from ISIS rule in 2017 under the leadership of the YPJ.