Housewives and Teachers
Rewşen Bedir-Khan was born in 1909 in Turkey and died in 1992 in Syria. She was a writer, translator and a co-worker at the magazine Hawar, the only female writer. Bedir-Khan was married to Hawar's editor-in-chief, Prince Celadet Bedir-Khan. She worked as a teacher in Jordan and Syria and was active in the women's struggle, at a time when women lacked all rights. Her articles were mostly about women, women's rights and their role in society. She also turned to the men, through knowledge she wanted to change their view of women with the aim of building a safe society together. With this article from 1941 she wanted to encourage Kurdish women to educate themselves and become independent.
Firat Ceweri visited Rewşen Bedir-Khan in Syria in 1987 to salvage the forgotten magazine Hawar and have it reprinted in two volumes in Sweden.
The title of this text may lead the reader into thinking that it will be about sewing and cooking, since this is what a text about housewives most commonly would deal with. They might even ask themselves with some surprise what housewives and teachers may have in common and why they are mentioned together? But if they are patient and read on they will realize what I mean: that housewives and teachers should join forces, and that there ought to be a teacher within every Kurdish housewife.
Without doubt a woman’s first duty is motherhood. But when one focuses on women and their influence within the social sphere one notices that women have both a direct and an indirect influence. The men who hold the welfare of the nation in their hands have all been brought up by women; memories of motherly cares follow them to their graves. But for us Kurdish women it is not enough to bring up our children, we have another important role to play and that is why I in particular want to address Kurdish women.
Dear sisters, you know very well that our people’s worst scourge is ignorance. Many nations, governments, and organisations systematically try to come to grips with this social evil by creating a stable infrastructure that offers all children an education. Sadly, our people lack this kind of infrastructure. Our people lack both leaders and organisation; we are a fragmented people who live in various nations. Still, our main enemy is ignorance, and we need to combat this disastrous enemy. In this struggle, it is us Kurdish women who have an obligation to help our men. We must teach our children to read and write and to thereby save them from the hazards of ignorance.
This work is more important for us Kurdish women than for other women around the world. When other children go to school they first and foremost learn their own mother tongue, while our children learn the language of the country where they live, and they forget their own language. This is because we do not have our own schools and in their schools our children are not educated in their own mother tongue. More than others, therefore, Kurdish mothers should take an interest in their children’s home language; before our children start school, we need to teach them to read and write in Kurdish.
Kurdish mothers need to learn to read and write in their own language so that they can help their children do the same. Here is our magazine Hawar. Those who are familiar with the Kurdish alphabet can better their knowledge by reading Hawar and those who lack this knowledge need to start to learn the alphabet.
Dear sisters, I am prepared to help you. You can write to me and ask me all you want in order to learn your own mother tongue. I will gladly send you the material you need. Fulfilling your request will make me happy that I am helping our language by keeping it alive for our children and for the future.
Dear sisters, I will say it once more: Kurdish women of the new generation, we who are caring for our people’s next generation, we have two important tasks: the first is to educate ourselves and the second is to educate others. For these purposes, we need first to be students and then teachers – our children’s teachers.
HAWAR, Damascus, 1941