Daughters of the Sun – Female Peshmerga Fighters

The word Peshmerga means: ‘those who stare death in the face’. This intriguing meaning, combined with the images I saw of the brave Kurdish military fighting with ISIS; its depressing black banner so in contrast with the vibrant and sunny Kurdish flag, made me want to meet these fighters.

Chnar with daughter Vicky

Peshmerga Chnar with her daughter Vicky

I went to Iraqi Kurdistan twice. The first time I stayed with the Dutch marines that train the Kurdish troops. The second time around I asked filmmaker Roy Dames to accompany me. I was guided by Chnar Hessin, Peshmerga and mother of 16-year old Vicky. She was my guardian angel during our trips through Kurdistan. I was her guest in Erbil and slept on her couch for two weeks. I felt a great solidarity with her and the other female Peshmerga.

They felt like sisters to me.

Because these women are first and foremost, like me, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters. Resilient, powerful, protective. Full of the joy of life, while bravely staring death in the face.