‘I was already a feminist, but the YPJ gave me the tools to survive as a woman’: Exclusive look at Eddi Marcucci’s journey from Italy to Syria

By Alice Camilleri Burke


The Italian anti-ISIS fighter Eddi Marcucci describes her time in Rojava, Syria in 2017 with the Kurdish women’s defence unit

TRAINING under the YPJ is hard work according to Eddi Marcucci.

“You help each other become the best version of yourself”, according to Eddi, but the environment is loving and nurturing, and self-work is actively encouraged: “The education there really changes you.

“It goes deep into analysing your personality and how capitalism affects your behaviour,” she says.

Living conditions in the training academy are rigid and require immense discipline. She tells Redaction Politics: “You wake up really early, and do exercise, sports, lessons. All their teachings are very ideological – you learn about the Revolution, its values, about how Democratic Confederalism works in practice.”

Eddi explains that your motives for joining are important, saying: “They make you face why you want to fight for a revolution, why it is needed, and how you will do that in practice.

“All of that is realised through the female perspective.” 

There is a culture of harsh criticism, but applied in a constructive way, “It’s seen as a gift. However, criticising someone also means being responsible for not perpetrating the same behaviour – we tell each other these things because we want each other to grow,” she adds.

Everything is focused on the building up of the self:  Eddi admits that “living together, you come to know each other deeply, and you share a lot. It becomes impossible to hide any aspects of yourself. You overcome a lot of personal fear as a result of that.

“In Western society, we claim the individual is at the centre of everything… that if you work hard enough, you can achieve your dreams. But when you look around and see people being denied their rights, fair pay, you realise – what is my worth? There’s an inherent contradiction there.”

Eddi was surprised by how different life was with the YPJ, and never would have joined a ‘mainstream’ army.

She recalls: “In Italy, when I see the military on the street, I instinctively cross the road, because I don’t want them to harass me – they’ve been accused of violence towards women.

“But I joined the YPJ because they’re different. They cannot be reduced to war, to the tools they use – what they are doing is something greater.”

She describes how she radically different she feels since her time there. “I was already a feminist, but the YPJ gave me the tools to survive as a woman. I have more patience, I am kinder, and I am more welcoming towards people; it’s easier for me to relate to positions different to my own,” continues Eddi.

It helped me to understand my role in oppression and resistance, and the criticisms that the Kurdish women’s movement has towards white Western feminism.”

Eddi is now back in Italy, but she is still very much in touch with the movement.

She notes: “There’s a Kurdish community in Italy, and we organise solidarity movements, information distribution… I would never want to lose contact with the people there.”

Why did she come back?  “I wanted to tell people what was happening there.”

Eddi talks about the emotional struggles she has undergone living through war, she explained: “When people give their life to the cause and you survive, you have a big responsibility to vindicate what they died for.

In revolutionary terms, that means creating the world they were fighting for.”  Eddi believes nowadays, young people need heroes to look up to. “There are no better examples than Internationalists like Anna Campbell and Alina Sanchez,” she told Redaction Politics

Eddi explains how as a woman in the YPJ, the all-pervasive presence of the patriarchy faded. She said: “I think women that carve their own identity from and for themselves aren’t necessarily better people, but they do have a better existence.

The women’s movement is an enormous chance for every woman in the world to have a more meaningful life – being part of the YPJ makes you feel powerful. You realise you are not alone.”

Alice Camilleri Burke is a writer and journalist based in London. She is interested in stories of marginalised communities, as well as feminism, intersectionality, film and literature.

Follow Alice on twitter @alicecamburke


Featured Image: Courtesy of Eddi Marcucci

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