Women Against ISIS

In the war against the Islamic State, the only movement combatting the jihadists with any effectiveness on the ground is the Kurdish resistance army. This movement is made up of both men and women fighters forcing back the jihadists and reclaiming the land village by village.

One of the resistance commanders is Viyan, a 25 year old Syrian-Kurdish woman. She is operating on the eastern front of Kobanê in Syria, where mixed-sex units fight under her orders against the Islamic State. But before joining the resistance at 18 she was a shepherd girl, promised in marriage to her cousin. Through joining the resistance, Viyan and many other young women find freedom not only to fight, but to learn to read, write and lead. It is for this reason that many girls join the resistance, shaking off patriarchal constraints and futures already set out for them by their families. In their various roles within the resistance, these women have power and authority, even causing jihadi males to flee at their chants for fear of being killed a woman.

We see the importance of the women and of the Kurdish resistance in the fight against ISIS, whilst exploring the contradictions of this Kurdish society that is modern and brave but at the same time, terribly conservative.


  • Year: 2016
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: CINETEVE
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France



  • Etonnants Voyageurs de Saint-Malo (France) 2016; Rome Independent Film Festival (Italy)

Related Programs

Mosul After the War

For a year, despite the concerns of the international community and the threat of ISIS’ return, we followed the efforts to rebuild Mosul.

More info

Silent War

A harrowing and important film by acclaimed director, Manon Loizeau, on the use of rape as a weapon of war in Syria with personal testimonies from women abused in captivity.

More info

Syria’s Disappeared: The Case against Assad

Tens of thousands of men, women and children have disappeared into secret detention centres in Syria since the protests began in 2011. Survivors allege crimes against humanity. They’re fighting to free those still detained and to prosecute the perpetuators at the very top of the regime.

More info