My election will help unionization of women workers: Labor union DİSK’s first female chair
Şebnem Turhan – ISTANBUL
The first ever female chair of the Confederation of the Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), Arzu Çerkezoğlu, has said she will help strengthen the fight of women workers in unionizing and increasing their representation in the union.
“The fight for unionization in Turkey is difficult, and being a woman makes this struggle harder,” Çerkezoğlu told daily Hürriyet at the leftist union’s Istanbul headquarters.
“I have been in this movement since 1992. We have struggled for unionization everywhere. There were a lot of difficulties. We were fired from our jobs, we were oppressed. But we won every struggle we fought for. And in this struggle, to see women change and flourish made me happy. Women in Turkey may seem secluded and always at home, but they are always at the forefront of the unionization fight,” she said.
Çerkezoğlu replaced Kani Beko after he quit the post to run as MP for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the June 24 snap elections.
DİSK, one of Turkey’s biggest labor unions, announced the election of Çerkezoğlu on May 29. Çerkezoğlu was elected by the chairs of 22 member unions of DİSK, including two women and 20 men. She will serve as DİSK chair until Feb. 13, 2020.
Çerkezoğlu was born in 1969 in the eastern Black Sea province of Artvin and studied at Istanbul University’s Medical School before starting to work as a physician in 1994. Çerkezoğlu previously served as the first woman secretary-general of DİSK, which was established in 1967.
“I have a daughter in university. The struggle is at the center of my life, but of course I have a normal life too, a job, and a family life,” Çerkezoğlu said.