Country promotes first female general

Country promotes first female general

Fevzi Kızılkoyun - ANKARA
Country promotes first female general

Özlem Yılmaz, a soldier serving in the Turkish army for nearly three decades, has been promoted to be a brigadier general, becoming the first female general in Türkiye.

“The Republic of Türkiye has given the rank of general to a female soldier for the first time since women started serving in the Turkish army as commissioned officers in 1955,” local media has reported.

The 46-year-old Yılmaz had been serving in the army as senior colonel since 2014.

During her previous tenure, Yılmaz participated in various national and international projects and training programs on combating violence against women and juvenile crimes, domestic and international study visits and many trainings, seminars, conferences and workshops organized by the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Family and Social Services Ministry.

She also served as an expert representing the gendarmerie in the research commissions on violence against women established in the parliament.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet in 2018, Yılmaz said, “Violence against women is the bleeding wound of our country. We must not only dress the wound but heal it completely.”

The command, which works in the field in order to stop violence against women and prevent child abuse, especially in rural areas, appointed commissioned officers and sergeants most of whom were women in order to ensure a more comfortable communication.

The teams, headed by Yılmaz, went from door to door in rural areas, working to prevent violence against women, providing training and telling women about their rights. They delivered brochures and information texts to women.

Yılmaz mentioned her friend Songül Yakut, the country’s first female gendarmerie commander, for laying the foundations for the women’s place in the army.

“We are trying to contribute as much as we can to the works that Lt. Col. Songül Yakut started,” said Yılmaz.

Yakut was among the 13 soldiers who died when a military helicopter got tangled in a high-voltage power line in the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Şenoba district in 2017.

She also called all citizens to inform the gendarmerie 24/7 if they come across a woman exposed to violence or a child who is in need of help or protection.

Born in Istanbul in 1976, Yılmaz graduated from a military academy in 1997 as a lieutenant. She started her career as a team commander in Şırnak’s Silopi district, and she had been serving as the head of the Gendarmerie General Command’s fight against domestic violence and children department.

Within the scope of the decisions regarding the Gendarmerie General Command, which was published in the Official Gazette on Aug.13 with the signature of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Lt. General İsmail Balibek and Lt. General Hüseyin Kurtoğlu were appointed as deputy general commanders as Deputy General Commander Lt. General Musa Çitil was retired.

According to the decision, Gendarmerie General Commander Arif Çetin continued to hold the same post, while two major generals were promoted to lieutenant generals, 16 brigadier generals to major generals, and 14 colonels, including Özlem Yılmaz, who will serve as the vice president of the Gendarmerie and Coast Guard Academy, to brigadier generals.

While 37 provincial commanders, including 10 generals, will serve at their new places of duty, 11 other generals and 14 colonels were retired.
It had been eagerly awaited for Türkiye to have a female general since Yakut’s death and Lt. Colonel Bilgehan Bülbül’s detention as part of the investigations against the failed coup, when a small military junta, accused of being members of the FETÖ, attempted to overthrow the government in 2016.