Empowered futures are possible through empowered girls
Gender inequality or women exposed to unfairness, or by a larger definition, the “women issue,” is both a global and a multidimensional issue.
In the world, two thirds of almost one billion illiterate adults are women.
Only $14 trillion out of $300 trillion of wealth in the world are owned by women and only 1 percent of global land is owned by women.
New female graduates earn 20% less than male graduates. This gap will rises up to 31% in a decade.
We need to take giant strides together to change this dark scene.
Within the scope of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the leading countries of the world can commit to investing a minimum of $100 billion per year. However, resources allocated to girls’ education projects are only $13 billion. I am obviously not questioning the significance of the global warming issue and I do support the measures taken, yet if we had allocated more resources for girls’ education and if there were more female state leaders today, or if there was more female representation on company boards, if there were more female CEOs, more female academics, in other words, if there was more female representation in decision-making, we would have been more apt in tackling global issues such as global warming.
As the Aydın Doğan Foundation, we have been undertaking significant projects contributing to gender equality for the last 15 years.
At first, through the “Dad Send Me to School” campaign, 35 girls’ dormitories were founded and over 50 thousand scholarships were provided. The campaign we started closed the gap between boys and girls in middle school education in Turkey along with contributions by the government and other NGOs. A social problem was solved with collaboration between the government and private sector.
As the foundation, we continue to support students both whom we provide scholarships and those who stay in our dorms. We organize numerous training programs to expand the imagination of our girls, increase their skills to express themselves and boost their self-confidence.
We started a new scholarship program two years ago. We provide scholarships to our girls who graduate from “Daddy Send Me to School” dormitories and students from other high schools who wish to study in the fields of engineering and law. Why law and engineering? Because we believe science and law are of utmost importance for the development of a country.
We also believe classical educational order needs to change in a world where self-driving cars are discussed, factories managed by robots are designed and where to stop artificial intelligence is debated. There is a hazard that skills we teach at schools today become invalid upon technological revolution. Accordingly, we believe all young people need to be trained more inclined towards technology. Only one out of five engineers in the country are female. However, we support girls in this field because we believe we can ensure gender equality within a shorter period of time thanks to the power of technology.
I, too, get together with such young girls to the best of my ability and their courage, industriousness and dreams about the future also gives me hope for our future.
Education is an indispensable first requirement. But, employment of women following such an educational period and ensuring their participation in the economy also carries the same importance. For this reason, we provide support to various projects for the participation of women in employment.
This year, as Hepsiburada, Turkey’s leading e-commerce platform I have founded, we started a program on the power of technology for female entrepreneurs. We are mobilizing all capabilities and abilities of Hepsiburada for female entrepreneurs, our technology and marketing power in particular, via this program.
We can proudly say thanks to the program, the ratio of female entrepreneurs who apply to our network of suppliers has recently increased to 30 pct. Again, I have met many anonymous heroines thanks to this program. Some have converted a room in their home into a workshop and produce dolls. Some, while going to their day job, have represented the country in an international design contest and came in first with a product designed thanks to a training program they attended at night. As we witness such stories, we see the slightest positive discrimination we make for female entrepreneurs yields such nice results and makes us happy.
*Hanzade Doğan Boyner is the president of the Aydın Doğan Foundation. The above is the abridged version of the speech delivered at the International Day of the Girl Child Conference.