Unimpeded by Gezi, 500 women to come to Istanbul

Unimpeded by Gezi, 500 women to come to Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Unimpeded by Gezi, 500 women to come to Istanbul

‘We received letters asking us what was going on during the Gezi events,’ says Nazan Moroğlu. DHA photo

While several international conferences and meetings have been canceled in Istanbul due to the Gezi events, the members of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) decided to go ahead with their triennial conference scheduled for mid-August in the city.

Nearly 500 delegates will gather in Istanbul for the 31st conference of IFUW, a leading girls’ and women’s global organization run by and for women, advocating for women’s rights, equality and empowerment.

“We chose not to run away, on the contrary, to show support,” Marianne Haslegrave, the president of IFUW told a small group of journalists yesterday.

“Most of the participants had registered prior to the Gezi events. But we did not have one single cancellation,” said Nezihe Bilhan, the head of the local arrangement committee, adding that 492 delegates from 58 countries would come to Istanbul. Members of IFUW span 65 countries, and Turkey is hosting the organization’s triennial conference for the first time.

“At the beginning we received letters asking us what was going on during the Gezi events. We wrote a letter back explaining that they were democratic protests but the government chose a brutal approach. Then we started getting supportive mail,” said Nazan Moroğlu, the head of IFUW’s Turkey branch, which was established in 1949.

Mock trials to be held

The conference will see a first as two mock trials will be held; one on a divorce case, the other on a child marriage case. The Turkish Association of University Women, IFUW’s Turkey branch, has tabled two additional changes to the organization’s mission, asking members to focus more on the child marriage issue as well as working to make incest a crime under national laws.

While the conference will have a special focus on sustainable development, another topic of importance will be ensuring opportunities for secondary and higher education, according to Haslegrave.

“Secondary education is very important because few women get empowered if their education is limited to primary education,” she said. Meanwhile upon the suggestion of the Turkish participants, urbanization will be another topic under discussion.

The conference will also elect its new president as Haslegrave ends her three-year term. The three candidates are from South Africa, Rwanda and France. Ayden Birerdinç will become one of the four vice presidents. The conference has no major sponsor except Kadir Has University.