Remarks of H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal at the Catwao Evening Of Music On The Occasion Of International Women’s Day (Ottawa, Turkish Residence)

Selçuk Ünal 08.03.2015

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. I hope
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

Women’s rights, gender equality and severe human rights issues
around women are at the top of the international agenda. Unfortunately, violence
against women and gender inequalities still exist in the world. It is essential
for men and women to have equal opportunities in all walks of life, be in
politics, business, education, health care or participation in political and
social life.

Cultural excuses and traditional customs against these
rights should not create a challenge. We need to address all, everywhere in the
world. Due to recent tragic incidents around the world, including Turkey, I
would like begin by stressing that violence against women, 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. In this vein, in Turkey, Özgecan and her dear father
have become a symbol. We should never forget them and the peace messages her
father gave.

I would like to continue on more positive aspects.

As you know, it was the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who
started to empower women even before some of the Western countries. Turkish
women won the right to vote in municipal elections on March 20, 1930. They
participated in the parliamentary elections for the first time on February 6,
1935 and obtained 18 seats.

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

Turkey is proud to be a party to international conventions in the field of
women's rights as well as those which support the implementation of these
conventions. In this context, 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.

The Constitution was also amended to clearly express that “men and women have
equal rights. The State shall have the obligation to ensure that this equality
exists in practice”. Turkey has introduced positive discrimination for women
through the amendment which was adopted with the referendum held on 12 September

Furthermore, Turkey led the international efforts in preparing the “Council
of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and
Domestic Violence”. It is also called the“İstanbul Convention”. Turkey was the
first country to sign and to ratify the Convention.

Some positive amendments were brought in the relevant legislation 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’s
old. These facilitations are in the process of further improvement. Also,
micro-credit projects for women were instrumental in delivering newfound
respect, independence, and participation for women in their communities and in
their households.

In conclusion, the 3rd Action Plan for 2016-2019 on violance against women
that the Turkish Prime Minister Davutoğlu announced today is putting forward
more steps to that end.

I would like to share some figures regarding women's participation in Turkish

In 2012-2013 academic year, the number of female teachers working in
education institutions from primary school to high schools constituted the 53%
(440.500) of total number of teachers. Proportion of female judges to total was
36,3% and the presence of female professors in academic life was 28,1 % in 2013.
As of today, 14 of 174 University Provosts, 41% of academicians, 40% of health
care workers, 14% of the MPs and 10 % of municipial legislative members are

With this understanding, 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 48
female Ambassadors, 37 % of our Ministry officers (2175 out of 6.400) are women.
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. Also in
our Embassy, the presence of our female colleagues and their strong
contributions to the Embassy is very much appreciated.

Those figures, of course, are not enough. That is why, we need to further
increase them.

But, what we need to do is also change mentality worldwide. As announced in
today's Action Plan, in particular on violence against women, we need to further
strengthen the legal framework, health care system, inter-agency cooperation
and, last but not the least, raise awareness in every walk of life. Finally, we
all have to keep in mind that without the support of women, no process can be

I also would like to thank the young and talented members of the Stellae
Boreales Violin Ensemble for sharing this important day with us through their

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

Monday - Friday

09:00 - 17:00

Personal Application to Consular Section: 09:00-13:00
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