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State Department extends funding to four Turkish women's NGOs

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 1/24/2011 12:00:00 AM |

The proposals of four Turkish nongovernmental organizations focusing on women's empowerment will be funded by the United States State Department, an American envoy has declared. Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women’s issues, said Monday the four Turkish NGOs had been selected through a competitive process by which 67 projects from 38 countries qualified to receive grants

The United States State Department will fund four projects from Turkish nongovernmental organizations that are dedicated to women’s empowerment that could become a worldwide model, an American envoy has said.

Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women issues, said Monday the four Turkish NGOs were selected through a competitive process by which 67 projects from 38 countries qualified to receive grants.

“There were an extraordinary number of applications from Turkey and I wish we were able to fund more,” said Verveer, adding that the selected NGOs were involved with innovative pilot projects.

One of the winners, the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work, or KEDV, is combining climate change with women's economic empowerment.

The 12-month project, which will receive $100,000, has two legs, said Şengül Akçar of the KEDV. The first leg aims at raising awareness among women about the consequences of climate change and will include educational seminars in Istanbul, the Marmara district of Bandırma, the southern province of Hatay and the southeastern province of Mardin that will provide information about alternative energy sources.

The second leg centers on implementing energy alternatives and will feature women’s cooperatives producing 2,000 solar cookers. “We want women’s cooperatives to produce and sell these solar cookers,” said Akçar.

Climate change affects the poorest segments of society, especially women, said Akçar, adding that using solar cooker would also save money for the user, as there will be less need to use other sources of energy for cooking.

Another project, the Mother Child Foundation, or AÇEV's, “Raising Young Women” initiative, targets illiterate women or those who have dropped out of school. AÇEV, which aims to reintegrate 2,550 young girls and women in Istanbul and the southeastern province of Diyarbakır into the education system through a 16-month program, will receive around $95,000.

Meanwhile, a project from the Women's Research and Action Center from the Central Anatolian province Eskişehir will address gender-based problems in the media by training journalism students from five Turkish universities on gender awareness and gender-based violence.

The students, who will participate in a project called “Demystifying Gender Violence for Future Journalists: From Self-Awareness to Gender-Sensitive Reporters,” will be asked to train their peers when they go back to their universities, said İncilay Cangöz, the project coordinator, who added that a television program will be prepared as part of the project.

The DVDs of that program as well as the booklets that will serve as guidebooks will be distributed to universities free of charge, said Cangöz.

Also, a project from the Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation will target high school students who are staying in dorms. The foundation has already built 26 women’s dorms in rural areas where the number of females attending school is low, transferring the facilities to the Education Ministry.

“We realized that it is not enough to offer female students a place to stay. We need to contribute to their personal development as well. Most of these girls staying in the dorms come from low-income families. They are not surrounded by successful female role models, yet they are at a stage when they are supposed to take important education and career decisions,” said the foundation’s Aslı Bekmen.

Twelve volunteers will be trained to conduct interactive seminars on issues such as health, communication, education and career planning in a bid to address nearly 1,150 young girls and 180 teachers in dorms in Diyarbakır, and the other eastern province of Şanlıurfa, Bitlis and Muş.

Cosmetic firm Avon will also contribute to the nearly $50,000 grant that the Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation will receive along with Eskişehir’s Anadolu University.

Avon is a brand that has a corporate commitment on fighting violence against women, said Verveer, adding that the private sector was increasingly willing to become engaged in these issues. “This also creates the conditions for the private sector to prosper.”

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