Defense Ministry alters policy of female student’s non-admission to military schools after campaign
Nuray Babacan – ANKARAAn online campaign by a 21-year-old woman has prompted the Defense Ministry to change its decision barring women students from entering navy, air force and non-commissioned officer schools.
Defense Minister Fikri Işık said he consulted military officials and decided to change the admission criteria concerning women students in the face of the personnel needs of the military and sensitivity among the public.
The decision overturns a decision made after the July 2016 coup attempt, in which women were barred from all military schools except for those of the land forces.
“I am also very happy to work with women officers. We work together in the ministry as well...In fact, in our [Justice and Development Party] era, women have participated more in social life and workforce. But for some reason, there are different ideas about us. Women officers of course should be [there] and this decision was only taken because of the issues of need,” Işık said in a speech in parliament.
The move came after an online campaign by Tuğba Cerav on the change.org website. Kicking off the campaign for her 17-year-old sister Nisanur, who wants to enter an air force school to become a pilot, Cerav succeeded in collecting more than 30,000 signatures. In the campaign titled “Abolish the decision to deny female students’ admission to air force schools,” Cerav used a picture of the Turkish Armed Forces’ first woman squadron commander, Esra Özatay, as her campaign face. Cerav said she used Özatay’s picture because she was an “idol that showed what can be achieved when one wants.”
Cerav said they moved to act following a pamphlet released by the Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM) on Jan. 3 that said women would not be permitted to enter tests for military schools.
“In order to carry [out campaign] to wider circles, I thought of change.org. I have always tried to contribute to their campaigns. No, I thought, it’s our turn. Thousands of signatures were collected in a couple of days. We saw there a number of victims who have dreams like Nisa. My sister still has a year to go until the test. But there are students who will enter the test this year. Think about it, there is a test in March and a pamphlet is published in January and you learn that you cannot realize your dream,” said Cerav, adding that she believed women had the power to realize their abilities in every field, not just at military schools.
The signatures of the campaign will be handed to the President’s Office, Defense Ministry and Air Force Command.