Farmer Malêzya Çuko in Shengal: Break gender stereotypes

Malêzya Çuko, a farmer in Shengal (Sinjar) challenges gender stereotypes by driving a combine harvester. She calls on women to “Choose the career you want by breaking gender stereotypes.”


Shengal (Sinjar)- Many women make a living from farming in Shengal. One of these women, Malêzya Çuko has been engaged in farming since she was 13. She has driven a combine harvester by challenging gender stereotypes. She thinks women can choose the career they want and encourages women around her.

‘We began to plant as we returned to our homeland’

When ISIS attacked Shengal in 2014, Malêzya Çuko and her family fled from the city and began to live in a camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. “Due to bad conditions in the camp, I could not go to school. The living conditions in the camp were very bad so we returned to Shengal when it was liberated. We began to plant as we returned to our homeland. My father supported me and I learned everything about farming from him. I was interested in driving so I learned how to drive in a month.”

 ‘Women are not free’

Drawing attention to the gender inequality, she said, “Some jobs are considered ‘men’s jobs’ in our society. For this reason, women are not free to choose the career they want. They cannot learn how to drive. But I learned how to drive. As I grew up, I saw how I am a role model for the women in our city. I like driving because I encourage women when I drive.”

 Due to low rainfall, agricultural revenues reduced in Shengal in the previous years. This year, the farmers in Shengal are happy because rainfall has recorded high. “We had to provide water from the river for our fields due to the low rainfall. But this year will be a fertile year for us.”

 ‘Fences built between Arab villages and Shengal extend the distance’

The Iraqi government built fences between Arab villages and Yazidi villages. Speaking about the fences, Malêzya Çuko said, “We face many problems due to these fences. Normally, we can go to our fields from our house in five minutes; however, the fences extend the distance because we must first pass the Arab villages in order to go to our fields.”

 Malêzya Çuko also called on women to “Choose the career you want by breaking the gender stereotypes.”