Speech By Ambassador H.e. Dr. Tuncay Babalı On The Occasion Of International Women's Day At The Turkish Embassy & Catwao Evening Of Music , 06.03.2014

Ottava Büyükelçiliği 06.03.2014

Distinguished Members of CATWAO and Stellae Boreales Violin Ensemble

Dear Guests

I would like to welcome you and extend my congratulations to all women on the occasion of the 8th of March, the International Women’s Day and hope that this meaningful day would be an occasion for promotion of peace, justice and love for all humanity but especially for all women.

I also would like to thank CATWAO for organizing this special event to celebrate the day.

And I would also like to recognize Honourable Senator Anne C. Cools.

Women’s rights, gender equality and severe human rights issues around women are at the top of the agenda ever increasingly and internationally.

It is essential that men and women have equal opportunities in all fields such as politics, business, education, health care as well as participation in political and social life. Religious excuses and traditional customs are challenging colossal social issues that need to be tackled everywhere in the world also in my country. The legal regulations and the steps taken in this regard in recent years in Turkey are noteworthy.

Another motive for Turkey to take the proud lead among the Muslim countries is reaching out to the following conviction that: To place Turkey among top ten economies of the world which is our Republic’s centennial goal, will be only a dream if we do not truly empower our women. We have a lot to do to achieve this vision however we are on really right track. Let me explain some of these historic steps in detail because these are real source of inspiration for other Muslim countries.

Thanks to our beloved founding, visionary statesman Atatürk, Turkish women have attained their rights much earlier than the women in the Western countries. In Turkey women won the right to vote in municipal elections on March 20, 1930. Turkish women who participated for the Parliament elections as the first time on February 6, 1935 obtained 18 seats.

Turkey has become party to all relevant international agreements, charters and instruments concerning the protection of the rights of women and supports the implementation of these conventions. The concept of positive discrimination for women found its place in the Constitution.

Turkey is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) since 1985. The Turkish Government ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2002.

Prof. Feride Acar from Turkey was re-elected as a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in June 2010. She has been representing Turkey on the Council of Europe’s Ad Hoc Committee on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence since 2009.

Turkey actively contributed to the elaboration of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in short is referred to, as the İstanbul Convention during its Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Turkey is the first country to sign and to ratify the Convention. Domestic legislation to combat violence against women and protection of the family has been duly introduced.

With the amendment made in the Constitution, it has been clearly expressed that “men and women have equal rights. The State shall have the obligation to ensure that this equality exists in practice” into the 10th Article of the Constitution. Turkey has introduced positive discrimination for women through the amendment which was adopted with the referendum held on 12 September 2010.

Turkey opened the way for removal of legal barriers in front of Turkish women through the amendments introduced in Labour Law, Turkish Criminal Code and Municipal Law. The Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men was established in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey provided an important incentive for our women especially in terms of political participation.

Some positive amendments were brought for extending the duration of paid maternity leave as well as for decreasing the total hours of work required from new mothers until their babies are 1 year old.

Microcredit plays a critical role in empowering women especially in less developed parts of the world which helps deliver newfound respect, independence, and participation for women in their communities and in their households.

In Turkey, through the microcredit project local authorities such as “Special Provincial Administrations” have been providing micro-credits to women.

The women who use microcredit engaged in several branches of business, mostly small trading activities, husbandry, handworks and traditional arts and crafts. So far we had tremendous success to this program. Women, who empowered economically, also feels empowered to their democratic rights.

I would like to share some figures to you that in 2012-2013 academic year, the number of female teachers working in education institutions from primary school to high schools constitutes the 53 % (440.500) of total number of teachers which is around 833.000. Moreover, the proportion of female judges to total was 36,3 % and the presence of female professor in academic life was 28,1 % in 2013.

With this understanding, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contributed to the efforts aimed at protecting and promoting women’s rights and strengthening the status of women in the society, by closely cooperating with the relevant institutions in Turkey and in international arena in particular the United Nations, and its specialized agencies and mechanisms.

Having had more than 40 female Ambassadors so far, 35 % of our Ministry officers of more than 6.400 are women. I feel special pride with this picture because I was the Head of Human Resources Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before coming here to Canada. Since Adile Ayda, the first female diplomat who commenced work in 1932 and Filiz Dinçmen, the first female Ambassador (posted to The Netherlands) in 1982, our female officers have been representing our country with great success.

By concluding I would like to stress that violence against women is a crime against humanity. Any mentality which treats women as second-class citizens and which humiliates, despises and discriminates women should not find recognition in neither local nor international community.

With heartfelt feelings, I sincerely congratulate the International Women's Day of all women.

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