Program Advisory Council Meeting
Program Advisory Council Meeting of the United Nations Joint Program for Promoting the Human Rights of Women (“UNJP” or “Joint Program”), funded by Sabanci Foundation, implemented by UNDP and UN Women along with Sabanci University and supported by Ministry of Interior, Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Family and Social Policy and Union of Municipalities of Turkey took place on 11 September 2014 in Eskişehir, Anemon Hotel.
The meeting where the major accomplishments of the three components of the Program, namely Gender Responsive Budgeting, Purple Certificate Program and Sabancı Foundation Grant Program were elaborated, took place with the participation of Mr. Nabi Avcı, Minister of National Education, Mr. Güngör Azim Tuna, Governor of Eskişehir, Mr. Yılmaz Büyükerşen, Mayor of Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, Ms. Ingibjorg Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Representative to Turkey and Ms. Güler Sabancı, Sabancı Foundation Chairman of Board of Trustees.
Sabancı Foundation Chairman of Board of Trustees Ms. Güler Sabancı stated that Sabancı Foundation adopted a leading role in the promotion of women’s rights in Turkey with its sponsorship of United Nations Joint Programs since 2006 and added: “We created United Nations Joint Program to Promote and Protect Human Rights of Women and Girls in 2006. The Program was designed to be implemented in 6 provinces until 2010 and we achieved very good results. With the courage we gained from this first Program, we expanded the scope of the second Program by increasing the number of pilot provinces to 11. We added Gender Responsive Budgeting to the Program. This means designing public budgets, plans and programs according to gender equality principles. We need to know how much women need and benefit from public services such as public transportation, education, health, etc. There is a great role local governments can play at this point. Local governments have to look at their own budgets from a gender equality lense. If we can analyze how much women and men are affected by public policies, we can design budgets in a more egalitarian way”.
Güler Sabancı also stated that Eskişehir Equality Platform has been established as the first local budget monitoring group in Turkey as part of the gender responsive budgeting exercises under the leadership of Mayor Yılmaz Büyükerşen. Ms. Sabancı gave information about the Platform’s work and continued by saying that the work undertaken in Eskişehir should be used as a model not just in UNJP pilot provinces, but in all local governments across Turkey.
In his speech Yılmaz Büyükerşen, Mayor of Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, stated that women are not able to gain the rightful place they deserve in our society in the 21st century. He continued his words as follows: “Women’s rights is a very important topic where there is a lot to talk about. However, Turkey does not have the time to continue talking about this topic. This is because the condition of women in this country does not really look very encouraging. If this situation continues like this, it is very hard for us to catch up with advanced democracies or to become a more egalitarian society.”
Büyükerşen underlined that the indicator of an advanced democracy is not solely an industrialized and resilient economy, it is also the condition of women: “In a society where half of the population is discriminated against based on gender, no progress can be genuine and sustainable. It is high time that our country got rid of this shameful position and women earned their equal citizenship rights.
After opening speeches, a Panel was organized where important accomplishments of the Joint Program were highlighted. The Panel took place with the participation of Abdülbaki Karakurt, President of Kahramanmaraş Branch of Union of Workers of Directorate of Religious Affairs, Nesrin Semiz, President of Başkent Women’s Platform Association, İnci Parlaktuna, President of Eskişehir Osmangazi University Gender Studies Implementation and Research Center, Hale Kargın, Head of Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality Unit on Services for Women, Children & Disabled People and Zeki Yıldırım from Gazi Technical High School for Girls.
According to the information given in the Panel:
- As part of Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB), pilot trainings took place on 4-5-6 November 2013 in Eskişehir with the participation of 41 persons from the local government staff and NGO representatives. While the Municipality identified a Road Map that sets out the major tasks to be accomplished to implement GRB, under the leadership of Soroptimist Professional Women’s Club, Eskişehir Equality Platform was established. The mission of the Platform is to work with Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality to bring the strategic plan and the budget of the Municipality in line with GRB principles. Equality Platform’s first task was to visit the mayoral candidates prior to 30 March local elections and have them sign a gender equality protocol that sets out the expectations from the candidates should they be elected to office.
- As part of Sabancı Foundation Grant Program, Kahramanmaraş Branch of Union of Workers of Directorate of Religious Affairs carried out a project called “Subject is Men” which aimed at raising consciousness among men on the issue of violence against women. The project started by training 12 imams who volunteered to be part of the project. After the training of these imams, the volunteers delivered trainings to men in a wide variety of settings spanning from coffee houses to bazaars. The project reached 800 men so far.
- Eskişehir was also an exemplary province in implementing Purple Certificate Program (PCP). Teachers who volunteered to be part of the Program took gender equality trainings. After these trainings they implemented projects to increase gender equality awareness of their students. Among the projects implemented so far, “Girls, Let’s Join the Elections” campaign which tries to increase female candidacy for Presidency of Student Assemblies and 8 March campaigns were notable. PCP reached approximately 500 teachers from 11 provinces so far.
In the afternoon session of the Program, stakeholders of the Joint Program, Program coordinators and Didem Aydınmakina, Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, Head of Social Services Unit had the opportunity to discuss in more detail the GRB studies carried out by the Municipality. This section was moderated by Ingibjorg Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Representative to Turkey. The meeting ended with a Q&A session.