Fortunately for expat women, Istanbul is home to a number of wonderful organizations that are geared toward strengthening the female expat community in the city and encouraging women to build confidence to get out there and pursue their dreams.
One of these is the International Women of Istanbul (IWI), an organization for foreign women in Turkey that is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. This nonprofit member-based social organization provides an invaluable support network for international women in Istanbul. In addition to hosting two annual charity events, the Christmas Market and Spring Ball, it also organizes specialized activity groups for members who meet up regularly.
For an idea of the vast activities open to members, every month there is a coffee morning held on the Asian and European sides of the city, which take place this month on Tuesday, Nov. 12 and Thursday, Nov. 21, respectively. Then, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, there will be a Home Barista course held in Beykoz followed by a two-day series on an "Introduction to İznik Tiles," which will be held in Balat from Thursday to Friday, Nov. 14-15. There will also be a tour of underground Istanbul, entitled "What Lies Beneath," which will take participants through cisterns, ruins and vaults that exist under the streets of the city. Meanwhile, on Friday, Nov. 29, members of IWI will go on a "Grand Bazaar Christmas Shopping Spree," making for a fun opportunity to discover this ancient market and to find authentic and meaningful gifts for the holidays.
One of IWI's most highly anticipated annual events is also just around the corner. The IWI Winter Festival will be taking place on Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Istanbul Marriot Şişli Hotel. Open to everyone, this event is an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with members of IWI while shopping for holiday gifts and enjoying international food and festive fun for the kids.
Expat women getting together
Inter Nations, which is the world's largest professional networking organization for expats, also has an active branch in Istanbul that regularly hosts expat parties and special interest groups such as book clubs, single clubs and walking and running groups, to name just a few. Their Istanbul Women's Group is nearly 1,000 members strong and hosts a variety of events for women and children. If you want to check out what Inter Nations is all about, there will be two parties taking place this month, open to members and non-members alike. The first is an Exclusive Expat Get-Together that will take place this Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Raffles Long Bar, followed by the Inter Nations' Autumn Party on Thursday, Nov. 21 at Sortie.
On Saturday, Nov. 16, there will be a Women's Empowerment Brunch entitled "Powerful Community" that will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., at Kahveci Mustafa Amca Jeans in Asmalımescit. Aimed to be a relaxed yet inspiring morning full of engaging discussions, this month's topic will be "Global Sisterhood – Societal Expectations of Women" and will be an opportunity to for women to share their views and to listen to others' stories with the aim of "building solidarity through collaboration." The event is hosted by the global Philia Project, which aims to empower women by making meaningful connections as a path to sustainable leadership. Similar events are being held this month in other European cities such as Paris and Berlin, as well as in Middle Eastern cities such as Kabul and Dubai.
On Sunday, Nov. 17, The Philia Project will also be hosting "Sensitive Sessions," which will be a safe environment and group therapy session of sorts, where people can share their specific challenges in the presence of a professional guidance counselor.
There are two excellent food entrepreneurship organizations by the name of Life Project TR and Maide Mutfak that are based in Istanbul and actively assist members of the displaced community to develop their skills in the food sector. Luckily this month, the Life Project, which is short for "Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship" will be hosting the Pop-up Dinner "Beyond Iranian Home Cooking," in which Syrian chef Mohammad Alard will be joined by two cooks from Iran to prepare a pop-up meal that will be held at The Life Project kitchen in Levent on Friday, Nov. 29.
The Havle Kadın Derneği, which is an association for Muslim Feminists, will be hosting their first conference on Nov. 23-24 at Elite World Prestige Hotel in Taksim, in which various women will share their own personal stories and Islamic feminist perspectives.