Challenging the Impossible
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The seventh “Sabanci Foundation Philanthropy Seminar” titled “Challenging The Impossible” was held on December 12, 2013 at Sabanci Center "Haci Omer Conference Hall" with the attendance of Ms. Dilek Sabanci (member of Sabanci Foundation’s Board of Trustees); Ms. Zerrin Koyunsagan (General manager of Sabanci Foundation) and representatives from the public sector, business, media, foundations, associations and universities in Turkey.


Moderated by Oylum Talu, the seminar on “Challenging The Impossible” hosted two distinguished speakers; HRH Princess Mabel van Oranje (the Netherlands), the initiator and chair of Girls Not Brides platform; and Dr. Tererai Trent (Zimbabwe), the founder of Tinogona Foundation, who was married off at an early age but challenged the impossible conditions to find a way out though education.


Submitting a message to the Philanthropy Seminar, Chairman of Sabanci Foundation Board of Trustees Ms. Guler Sabanci remarked that women leadership is significant for social change: “Women are better equipped with the perspective, sensitivity and social responsibility, needed to create social change. Therefore, women leaders play a crucial role in achieving sustainable social development. However, they cannot succeed alone; we have to do it all together, still I believe women have a catalyzing role. We need to strengthen women in economy, politics and civil society. We need to provide equal opportunities and encourage women to be more active citizens.”


Ms. Guler Sabanci underscored that education is a pre-requisite for mobilizing the potential of women: “Girls should continue their education until the age of 18. Receiving education and making their own choices is their fundamental human right.”


Ms. Sabanci also stated: “Despite the severity of social problems, sometimes the struggle of a single person can make a difference. And sometimes the complexity of the problem requires global commitment and action. It is hard to achieve both, but not impossible. What we need is social leaders who can challenge the impossibilities and achieve their targets.”
Reminding the different models for social development, Ms. Guler Sabanci added: “Some people make a difference by challenging the impossible conditions in their lives, while others address social problems by using their resources to organize masses. The guest speakers of our seminar are examples to these two different models. As Sabanci Foundation, we mobilize our resources for a better tomorrow and support people to use their potential.”


The first guest speaker, the initiator and chair of Girls Not Brides platform, Mabel van Oranje asserted that child marriage steals the future of girls: “Child marriage robs girls of their childhood and of the chance to lead healthier, safer and more prosperous lives. Child marriage has lifelong consequences not only for the girl herself but for her children and her nation, too. For too long, it has been said that child marriage is a tradition that cannot change, but we are seeing change happening every day – in Turkey, Europe and beyond. The impossible is possible.”


The second guest speaker, the founder of Tinogona Foundation, Dr. Tererai Trent who was named “all-time favorite guest” by Oprah Winfrey, addressed the audience as follows: “Challenging the impossible starts with a dream that creates positive social change for the greater good. My personal journey and the establishment of Tinogona Foundation is the struggle for education. By ensuring equal access to quality education opportunities for all children and transforming rural communities to see the importance of educating girls, my foundation is creating a social movement within Zimbabwe and around the world.”


Dr. Trent stated that her story represents the plight of many women and girls and added: “At the core, it is a story of hope, keeping a dream alive and breaking barriers for girls and women in my community. Everybody should see the power of giving back - our Ubuntu - the essence of our humanity.”


Dr. Trent underlined that a tremendous impact can be created by supporting women and girls around the world, and completed her speech as follows: “Women leadership should be supported. This way, women leaders will realize their potential and make a difference in their lives.”



Initiator and Chair of Girls Not Brides Platform

Princess Mabel van Oranje (the Netherlands) is the initiator and chair of ‘Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage’, co-founder and the executive chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Global Board of the Open Society Foundations. She is also a board member of Crisis Action, an advisory board member of Global Witness, and an advisory council member of The Elders.


From 2008 until 2012, Mabel was the first CEO of The Elders. Previously, she was CEO of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans and International Advocacy Director of the Open Society Foundations.


Mabel helped found the Dutch foundation War Child (1995), the global NGO coalition ‘Publish What You Pay’ (2002) and the Independent Commission on Turkey (2004).
Mabel holds master’s degrees in Economics and Political Science from the University of Amsterdam. In 2005, the World Economic Forum named her one of its Young Global Leaders.


Founder of Tinogona Foundation

Dr. Tererai Trent is a senior consultant with more than 18 years of international experience in professional Program & Policy Evaluation. Trent has worked on five continents for global humanitarian organizations such as Heifer International. With a firm belief that education is the main pathway out of poverty, Trent shares her life story with audiences around the world, recounting how she traveled from Zimbabwe to the US and  juggled  three  jobs  while  raising  five  children  and  attending  classes—all  to  earn  her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in order to offer her children a better future and help other women  under  similar  circumstances.


In twenty-five years and more than 30,000 guests—Oprah Winfrey chose Tererai Trent as ‘her all-time favorite guest’. Because of her amazing ‘never give up’ attitude as indicated by her personal story of growing up in poverty, and her desire to give back to others, Tererai’s life is an inspiration and a lesson in perseverance. 


For the written document of the seminar please click here...

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