Turkey needs more women in local governance

Turkey needs more women in local governance

Four-year-old Elif and two-year-old Hira were killed by their father Ali Yardım on Jan. 2 in Istanbul’s Maltepe district.

Their mother Dilek Yardım, who was seeking a divorce from Ali, said at the funeral on Jan. 4 that she had repeatedly applied to the authorities to have a restraining order issued against her husband. But she was unable to get one.

If the district governor of Maltepe had been a woman, would this murder have taken place?

Is there a single woman the among deputy governors, responsible for security, anywhere in Istanbul? No, there is none.

And how many female district governors are there in Istanbul? There is just one: Çatalca District Governor İnci Sezer Becel Hanım.

Unfortunately, we have only just realized this after hearing the outcry in Maltepe.

The whole of Anatolia is full of similar outcries.

All the women’s rights NGOs have heard similar cries: From the tears of child brides crying in secret at night under the sheets to women who were subjected to domestic violence even after seeking shelter from the state.

Thank God we heard some good news the other day. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım heard the cry of Dilek Yardım during the funeral of her children in Maltepe. “I told all of you but none of you heard me,” she had said.

Yıldırım has reportedly ordered an investigation to determine any negligence on the part of public officials in relation to the killing. I wish this investigation could end the indifference that is so widespread in Turkey.

Can it? I’m not sure. As long as the culture of applauding only male children continues in this country… And as long as the mentality of seeing women as nothing more than objects does not change... How can we overcome this problem?

Women quotas in cities

Let’s just look at the facts again: There is not a single female deputy governor in Istanbul. Not a single female chief of security. There is just one district governor, in Çatalca.

And look at the websites of the district governors. How many of them feature the Family and Social Affairs Ministry’s campaign on violence against women? You can find it in only one of them: Çatalca.

Why? Because there is awareness. Because a woman is the district governor there.

I wish all district governors had attended the funeral of Elif and Hira.

Our governors, their deputies, and our district governors are all doing their job to maintain public security. But this is at core an issue of education and awareness. It is very difficult to solve such a deep-rooted problem in a male-dominated state administration.

A female chief of security was recently appointed to the district of Sur in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, one of the most complicated areas in the country in terms of security.

What was the result? It was a success.

That’s why I say the argument in favor of having a quota for women in parliament can also be extended to consider the gender equality balance in the administration of cities.

We don’t want to see any more women beaten or murdered in the middle of the street. We want to see them governing cities and providing justice.