A meeting held during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Vatican visit, which was paid at a critical crossroads, restored the hope that the masculine knots on global problems can be untied with a female point of view.
Before moving on to this important meeting, let me elaborate a little on the word "critical" that I have used to describe the visit. During the visit, which was a first by a Turkish president since 1959, the meeting with the pope would be a message not only to the Catholic world, but also to different regions. The common approach achieved between the pope and our president against the U.S.'s Jerusalem provocation could also offer hope for the solution of various issues.
And it was so. I think that the reflections of this visit will be as strong as the visit itself. Both philosophical and topical messages were conveyed during the meeting held by the Turkish delegation headed by first lady Emine Erdoğan and the Vatican female advisory board.
The meeting was hosted by Cardinal Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Consuelo Corradi, president of the Vatican female advisory board, and started with Ravasi's opening speech. The cardinal, who had memories of Turkey from 45 years ago, visited many places within the scope of his archaeological studies in the country. He enviously talked about many values of our country, from Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) in the Aegean Denizli province to Cappadocia, the central Anatolian province that is home to the world-renowned fairy chimneys.
During her address, the first lady underlined the problems of terrorism, the refugee crisis and the environment. She described the precious and inevitable ground of cooperation. Pointing to the meaning of meeting on a humane and moral common ground, Erdoğan reminded that Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees. She also referred to the educational campaign that has been launched to prevent 150,000 Syrian children from becoming a lost generation.
While the struggle between civilizations escalates, she remarked that "Material struggles lose significance where the soul is nourished." Noting that, "We have planted a seed of common grounds, not of differences through this meeting," the first lady mentioned the importance she attaches to the meeting held with the Vatican female advisory board.
A proposal for women's summit in Turkey
Proposing to hold a women's summit in Turkey, Emine Erdoğan stated that the rate of female academics in Turkey is at 45 percent.
Esra Albayrak, the president of the Women's Council of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), noted that it is important synchronicity that the Vatican female advisory board and the OIC Women's Council were founded at close times, and pointed to cooperation opportunities.
The Vatican female advisory board president made references to the kind of changes the concept of "humanity" has undergone today and to studies on the future of humanity – which constituted one of the philosophical aspects of the meeting apart from its topical aspect.
The question, "How can a female perspective contribute to the rest of the world?" was the main topic addressed during the round-table meeting.
Each lady included in the delegation headed by first lady Erdoğan also took the floor and talked about their expectations from the meeting. This meeting, which constituted an important ground, resulted in the decision to assess the possibilities of cooperation.
In the meantime, the cardinal took the floor and spoke of an interesting anecdote. In the earlier ages, the elite and noblesse called "gentlemen" used to gather in a courtyard in one of the ancient temples of Jerusalem. Only the circumcised Jews could enter this temple in the courtyard where people of different faiths gathered.
There were scripts in Greek – the dominant language of the time that was as common back then as English is today – on the wall of the courtyard. Those who passed that wall although they did not deserve were handed capital punishment.
The cardinal enviously mentioned that this marble plate is now in a museum in Istanbul, saying that this wall was destroyed by Jesus after prophethood was bestowed upon him. "Turkey is a country that destroys such walls," the cardinal said, stressing that our country can play an important role for peace.