HeForShe, a global gender equality campaign aiming to motivate more men to take a stand for women's rights, expanded to Turkey yesterday, with an event launched by officials from the U.N. That spearheads the campaign, along with government officials and dignitaries who are supporting the campaign.
The campaign that aims to "mobilize one billion men by July 2015," according to its official website, seeks to build solidarity to remove social and cultural barriers. It also seeks to help women "achieve their potential" by facilitating the inclusion of more women in the economy and politics, and raising awareness of gender equality. Moreover, Turkish celebrities, entrepreneurs, politicians, including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and other prominent figures have endorsed the campaign.
Speaking at the event to introduce the campaign, Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam said the country had "excellent" momentum in the early 20th century in terms of women's rights, as it was one of the first countries to grant suffrage for women, but failed to continue this accomplishment in the following decades. She stressed that the government seeks to regain that momentum by introducing new legal regulations in terms of affirmative action for women, such as helping working women to balance their career and family life through incentives.
İslam emphasized that violence towards women remains a major obstacle to improve gender equality. "Violence is prevalent all across the world; it is a social problem. Domestic violence towards women comprises a significant part of this pandemic of violence. We need to eradicate it in order to ensure that women have all their rights and achieve genuine gender equality," she said. She added that cases of domestic violence dropped in Turkey in light of mobilization to combat the phenomenon, although not as much as was desired.
Mustafa V. Koç, the prominent tycoon whose company is among the main sponsors of the HeForShe's Turkey campaign, said at the event that men "are unfortunately heard more than women" in the world. "We have to overcome prejudice toward women, and I believe everybody has the power to help wipe out this prejudice and ensure equality," he said. Koç stressed that having women in important positions in business and other spheres was one of the ways to eradicate this prejudice.
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