Gaziantep mayor Fatma Şahin awarded Italy’s Minerva Prize
Fatma Şahin, the mayor of the southeastern province of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, has been awarded Italy’s Anna Maria Mammoliti Minerva Prize on Nov. 30 for her and her municipality’s efforts for refugees in Turkey, becoming the first Turkish woman to win the award.
Şahin was given the award at an event organized at the Sala della Protomoteca in the Rome City Hall.
The Minerva Prize, renamed in 2009 after its founder Anna Maria Mammoliti, an Italian journalist and social activist, is the first Italian award dedicated predominantly to women who operate in “knowledge-related” fields.
The award is divided into different categories and consists of a precious brooch depicting the goddess Minerva designed by Maestro Renato Guttuso in 1983 on its first edition.
This year for the section “Women in the World,” the prizes went to Şahin and May Chidiac, a Lebanese journalist and founder of the NGO May Chidiac Foundation.
“I, representing especially the women of Anatolia, my country and my city, feel a great honor to be the first Turkish woman to receive this award,” Şahin said at the award ceremony on Nov. 30, Doğan News Agency has reported.
The mayor reportedly said legal regulations and social action projects in Turkey regarding women, especially in the areas of education, health, employment and domestic violence, showed “how important the work undertaken in Gaziantep and Turkey” was.
“It is a geography that turns the road of migration into a path of development, brotherhood and peace, but the world does not know what to do here [the refugee crisis]. It is therefore the success, insight, common sense and courage of this geography. Hopefully we can be role models,” she said.
Şahin added that the prize was awarded to her not as a result of a personal application but instead of the own discretion of Italy.
Gaziantep’s mayor since 2014, Şahin said she strives to make the city a safe haven for refugees. The city, hosting 500,000 Syrians, is widely praised for setting an example in treating refugees humanely in its five refugee camps, which are administered by the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).