Every year across the globe, “16 Days of Activism Campaign” is being organized during 16 days between 25 November “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” and 10 December “Human Rights Day”, to raise awareness on violence against women and girls. In this scope, UNDP Turkey organized an online panel on 2 December 2020, on domestic violence against refugee women and referral mechanisms.

Elimination of violence against women and girls is not only a fundamental human right but also an obligation for a sustainable future. Empowerment of women and girls is a significant part of development process, precondition for progress in human development and it contributes to economic growth as well.

One of the main results of the gender inequality is violence against women and girls. In this frame and in the scope of 16 Days of Activism, in order to be able to raise awareness, join forces for elimination of violence against women and girls and reflect that violence is preventable; UNDP Turkey Syria Crisis Response and Resilience Portfolio has organized an online panel and workshop on “Violence against Women and Refugee Women”.

The opening speech was made by UNDP Turkey Assistant Resident Representative, Seher Alacacı Arıner. In her speech, Alacacı Arıner drew attention to the effects of COVID-19, increased violence against women and girls in this process, and the fact that women are hit the most in this crisis to lose jobs and socio-economic gains. She pointed out that gender equality is indispensable for Sustainable Development Goals, and stressed that particularly the difficulties which refugee women have faced are of utmost importance in UNDP’s work in crisis response, socio-economic empowerment and resilience of refugee community.

Stating that UNDP is the specialized organization of the United Nations system on sustainable development, Seher Alacacı Arıner pointed out that the Goal 5 among the 17 Global Goals, is to ensure gender equality for our communities. Mentioning that the most important actors of all projects conducted at UNDP Turkey are women, she emphasized the importance of empowerment of women including refugee women and girls. Commenting that this is also required by UNDP’s mission and essential for sustainable development, human development and diminishing inequalities, Seher Alacacı Arıner also briefed participants on UNDP Turkey’s projects empowering Syrian women.

The first speaker at the panel was Lawyer Zeynep Duygu Ulusoy, who works on the rights of disadvantaged groups and humanitarian aid. Ulusoy stated that violence has been the common problem of women, regardless of language, religion, race, education and income level, and women can claim their fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey, regardless of the legal status or citizenship of the individual.

The second speaker, Cansu Gülergün, Protection Officer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stated that the most common problems of refugee women are the language barrier, their lack of knowledge about their rights, and the insufficient resources of institutions and organizations that provide services in places where the refugee population is high. She suggested that applications such as KADES can provide language options, and technical training and support can be given to the staff in call centers.

The third speech in the panel was made by psychologist and social worker Leyla Soydinç from the Purple Roof Women's Shelter Foundation. Soydinç stated that in Purple Roof, they have been working more intensively and trying to establish solidarity with refugee women who want to establish lives away from violence. According to Soydinç, there are pressing problems regarding language barriers and discriminatory attitudes which make the situation more complicated for refugee women.

The final speaker was Orhun Yurtvermez, Manager of Support to the Improvement of Legal Aid Practices for Access to Justice for All in Turkey (SILA) Project from UNDP Turkey. Yurtvermez mentioned that in the Project, lawyers received training on how to communicate with women subjected to violence, and the Project focused on bar associations in the Southeast Anatolia region. As one of the important steps of the second phase of the Project, violence prevention centers will be established. In this scope, Yurtvermez mentioned that, the role of civil society organizations is important due to their accessibility and their appropriate mechanisms to refer women into these centers in case of violence.

In the second part of the event, the participants were divided into six groups and discussed their experiences with Syrian women in their fields of work; the problems they encountered and their proposed solutions; and the cooperation opportunities that can be developed between public institutions and non-governmental organizations.

For more details

Dr. Faik Uyanık, Head of Communications for UNDP Turkey faik.uyanik@undp.org

Ruşen İnceoğlu, UNDP Turkey Syria Crisis Response and Resilience Portfolio Communications Officer, rusen.inceoglu@undp.org

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