First female elected as Turkish Red Crescent head

First female elected as Turkish Red Crescent head

First female elected as Turkish Red Crescent head

Fatma Meriç Yılmaz has been elected as the first female president of the Turkish Red Crescent during an extraordinary general assembly held on July 9 in Ankara's Etimesgut district, with 800 delegates casting their votes.

Yılmaz's presidency follows the resignation of the 155-year-old institution's former head Kerem Kınık, who faced criticism for selling tents to a civilian aid organization just days after the deadly Feb. 6 earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Türkiye’s south. With no other candidates in the presidential election, Yılmaz secured her position as the leader of the organization.

The Turkish Red Crescent’s sale of 2,050 tents in its warehouse to AHBAP, a local aid organization, in the first days of the quakes had sparked a fierce debate across the country.

During her speech after being elected, Yılmaz emphasized the organization's significance in Turkish society, stating, "The Red Crescent is one of the most precious values of this country. It is a fortress of kindness, the most concrete example of compassion, benevolence and determination to solidarity."

Yılmaz has served on the board of directors of the Turkish Red Crescent since 2015, initially as the deputy chairperson and as the acting chairperson following Kınık's departure.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for his part, expressed his support for Yılmaz and stressed the importance of safeguarding the Turkish Red Crescent in a video message to the general assembly. "It is the duty of all of us, as 85 million, to protect the Turkish Red Crescent, which is the embodiment of the fusion of the state and the nation," he stated.

Yılmaz, born in Ankara in 1975, completed her medical specialization after graduating from Ankara University's medicine faculty. Currently, she serves as a faculty member in the Medical Biochemistry Department of Yıldırım Beyazıt University and works as a teaching assistant in the Medical Biochemistry Department of Ankara City Hospital.