The First International Women's Congress that officially opened Tuesday in the capital of Ankara brings together academics and experts from around the world with a focus on women, their problems, gender roles and empowerment. Jointly organized by Turkey's Yıldırım Beyazıt University and Florida International University, the event hosts panels and workshops as diverse as child marriage, women's role in politics, women in literature and neurological differences between the male and female brain. Participants will discuss the role of nongovernmental organizations in women's empowerment, the role of women in local governments, exploitation of female migrants, violence against women, body image and sexual health among several other issues in panels, while academics give presentations on women's studies.
Addressing the congress, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's wife Emine Erdoğan touched upon "women's power," citing the role they played in stopping the coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on July 15. Women were at the forefront of public resistance against coup plotters who killed hundreds opposing the junta. "Women in my country are so powerful and determined that they stand against tanks. Their stance should be etched into the annals of women's history," she said. Mrs. Erdoğan said economic and social circumstances suppressing women throughout history are aggravated in the modern day, pointing out "basic humanitarian problems" encompassing gender in the 21st century.
"We are engulfed with wars, social injustice and a culture of violence and hatred. The world needs a resurrection and I hope this event will help to contribute new points of views on the basic problems we face today and will establish a new language both in addressing women's problems and basic humanitarian issues," she said.
She said women and men are two genders that complete each other and they should be "cooperating" instead of being subject to a hierarchy putting one before the other. "Unfortunately, some traditional mindsets distanced women from social life. But, we can only build a prosperous society with fair treatment based on their potential," she stated.
Erdoğan said Turkey has always strived to raise awareness of the problems women face on a global level, reminding that the country pioneered the establishment of the W20 under the auspices of the G20 last year and the initiative put forward a series of global goals such as reducing the gap in participation rates in the labor force between men and women by 25 percent in 10 years.
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