How does it feel, Turkey, to be a champion in gender inequality?
Imagine a country where 26 percent of women are married before they are 18, and where 10 percent of women have their first child before they are 18 years old. Imagine a country where 32 percent of women are prevented from attending school.
It is a country where half of young women do not participate in working life, any educational program or vocational training. Out of 148 countries in the Gender Development Index, the country ranks 118th.
Well, that country is our country.
Meanwhile, our country is also one that rushes to sign every treaty in the field of women’s rights. It never shies away from making pledges. For example, we were among the first to ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. (Imagine how enthusiastic we were that it was called the “Istanbul” Convention.) We made the convention open to applications for all kinds of violations; we prepared reports aimed at excluding women from social life; we were not able to utter the expression “gender equality,” but we came up with a nondescript concept like “gender justice.” While women are being murdered every other day for wanting a divorce, we mobilized anti-divorce teams.
In our country, society has taught girls the importance of being in the background. It still does. We have not been able to break the chain of poverty, violence and discrimination that has been going on from generation to generation. The way to break this chain is obvious: Education.
Oct. 11 is commemorated by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl Child, to emphasize the gender inequality girl children face.
The Aydın Doğan Foundation is organizing, for the second time, the International Day of the Girl Child Conference in Istanbul, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF and U.N. Women to discuss empowering girl children, prevent child marriages, and lift obstacles to gender equality in education.
In Turkey, 2.2 million of the 2.7 million illiterate people are women. In the 6-24 age group, 81,000 women are illiterate. A child marriage means the end of the education of the girl. A girl who does not attend school has six times more chance of getting married under 18 than one who attends.
As a result, education is the only option to prevent child marriages. If the middle school graduation rate of girls is increased then child marriages can be prevented and gender equality achieved. Otherwise, we will continue to be 125 out of 142 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report.
Bombing of peace one year ago
One year ago today, Turkey experienced one of the bitterest days in its history. In the suicide bomb attack at Ankara’s main train station more than 100 people were killed and more than 400 people were injured. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Turkey’s modern history.
The real aim of the bombs was the gathered people’s demand for peace, freedom and equality.
This is why we must never forget the Oct. 10 massacre. We should commemorate it at every opportunity. Remembering Oct. 10, 2015 means honoring the students and workers who lost their lives there, as well as honoring the desire for in societies.
However, the commemoration activity planned at the crime scene has been banned, using the authority of the state of emergency (OHAL). The ban is nothing less than breaking one of the stones leading to peace. The people of Turkey do not deserve this.