Turkey’s Changemakers: Life of a determined woman
Sabancı Foundation Turkey’s Changemakers Program continues in its 5th season to share the unique stories of extraordinary people who contribute to the social development. The thirteenth Changemaker of the 5th season is Hülya Aydın who implemented the “Raising Awareness on Preventing the Abuse of Girls” project.
49-year old Hulya Aydın lives in Mardin, a southeastern province of Turkey. She worked in the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture for 2 years after graduating from the vocational school of management, yet she had to quit her job after getting married, upon the demand of her husband.
Aydın who was exposed to domestic violence during her marriage, lost her husband after 7 years and started living with her 3,5-year old daughter. At that time, widow women in Mardin had to live with their family. However, Aydın defied this tradition and started living with her daughter. Regaining the strength to carry on, she returned to her career as a teacher. But she never forgot what she had been through and she became the Mardin Officer of KAMER (Women Center Foundation) to reach other women who were exposed to different kinds of violence.
After her father passed away, she made an effort to get her share of inheritance, even though women’s inheritance rights were not secured in Mardin. This way, she became one of the first women who secured her inheritance rights and started farming on the land left from her father. Later, she began to visit villages to tell women about their rights to inheritance. In order to institutionalize and expand her work, Hulya Aydin founded the Mardin Women Cooperation Association with her friends.
Among the many projects at the Mardin Women Cooperation Association, Hulya Aydın and her colleagues are implementing “Raising Awareness on Preventing the Abuse of Girls” project now.
Within the project, supported by Sabancı Foundation Social Development Grant Program, trainings on gender, reproductive health and communication are delivered to 400 students 3 days a week by psychologists, social service experts and teachers in two schools in Kiziltepe district of Mardin. Meetings on gender and communication with teenagers are also held with families and teachers in the project.
As part of the project, youth desks were established at schools to let young people express themselves in a better and more comfortable way. Poems, writings and photos collected at these desks were also printed as a newspaper.