The Local Equality Action Plan of Turkey's Kadıköy Municipality was established through the participation of local officials, universities, women’s and LGBT+ organizations, NGOs, and women/LGBT+ living in Kadıköy, all working towards policies of gender equality in an open forum.
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Problems and Purpose
Gender-based violence as well as discrimination against women and LGBT+ persons were continually increasing both in Turkey and worldwide. All segments of society, especially governmental bodies, have duties and responsibilities regarding the struggle with discrimination and rendering or perpetuating gender equality policies.
"Women-Friendly Cities” refers to cities where women have equality of economic, social, cultural and political opportunities . In order to practically have women-friendly cities, participatory government mechanisms should be established at a local level, the perspective of gender equality should be included in the local planning, and decision making-processes or other opportunities of dialogue and cooperation between women’s organizations and local governments should be developed.
For the purpose of establishing the mechanisms for local equality concerning the designation and implementation of services to increase the living quality of women and girls, Kadıköy Municipality decided to prepare its “Local Equality Action Plan”, for which a common mind was to be built through receiving opinion from all relevant parties.
In this context, on November 21, 2015, Kadıköy Municipality organized a women’s forum and workshop in order to prepare its Local Equality Action Plan together with women and women’s organizations . The “Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop” which was held at Kozyatağı Cultural Center in Kadıköy, was designated a platform where the local government, academics, NGOs, women’s organizations and women from Kadıköy would come together to generate ideas and express opinions on gender quality.
Background History and Context
The “Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence ”, also known as the “Istanbul Convention” is considered an international gain in the area of combating violence; it contains the ever-most comprehensive definitions of violence against women, domestic violence and gender-based violence while denying any discrimination during the exercising of the rights guaranteed within the scope of the Convention. On 12 March 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the Istanbul Convention .
In addition to the Istanbul Convention, according to Law No. 6284 on the Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Women, all administrative bodies including local governments bear the liability of supporting women and especially the women exposed to violence with orientation, consultancy and aids within the scope of their powers and service structure .
The inadequate implementation of the aforementioned legislation sustains the gender-based discrimination and violence faced by women and LGBTI. Additionally, for the mainstreaming of gender equality, holistic mechanisms should be activated on a local level. In this context, taking action for the prevention of violence and discrimination against women and for transforming our settlements into “Women-Friendly Cities” becomes important.
About Kadıköy Municipality
Kadıköy is an administrative district on the Asian Side of Istanbul. Located on the southwest of Asian Side, Kadıköy is surrounded by Üsküdar on the north, Ataşehir on the northeast and Maltepe administrative districts on the east and Marmara Sea on the west and south .
In the Late Ottoman period, Kadıköy Municipality was defined under the names of “11th District” and “18th District” municipalities and its first mayor was Osman Hamdi Bey. In the republican period, Kadıköy was declared as an administrative district on March 23, 1930 and later on, organized as a municipal district bound to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 1984.
Consisting of 21 neighborhoods, Kadıköy has 25 km2 land area and 21.812 people per km2 . The population of Kadıköy is 482.571, according to the 2014 data of TurkStat.
Mr. Aykurt Nuhoğlu (Republican People’s Party) was elected as the Mayor of Kadıköy in the local elections, which was held on March 30, 2014 .
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
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Participant Recruitment and Selection
The women working in Kadıköy Municipality, academics, female civil servants, women’s and LGBTI organizations, women living and/or working in Kadıköy participated in Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop. 150 women from the municipalities, state organizations, universities, women’s and LGBTI organizations were invited to Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop. Around 100 women among those invited from the municipalities, state organizations, universities, women’s and LGBTI organizations participated in the Workshop.
Methods and Tools Used
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Deliberation, Decisions, and Public InteractionKadıköy
Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop was designated as an event during which the local government, academics, NGOs, women’s organizations and other women living and/or working in Kadıköy would come together to both generate ideas and express opinions on gender quality.
The targets of Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality workshop were set as below:
- To take a step towards further processes of cooperation and coordination among women’s organizations, NGO’s, academics and local government;
- To enable the exchange of opinions and suggestions by bringing together the specialized experience of women’s organizations in terms of gender equality and the experience of local government;
- To establish a local gender action plan for Kadıköy and lay the foundations for the perpetual cooperation and coordination for its implementation;
- To organize an open women’s forum and an anonymous survey in order to receive their demands about municipal services for women;
- To prioritize and schedule the targets defined in the Local Equality Action Plan during the workshop event; and
- To emphasize the pioneering role of Kadıköy Municipality in terms of participation in local government through activating processes of making demands, policies with broad participation by women.
Preparation of the Participatory Process Prior to the Forum and Workshop Event
Kadıköy Municipality opened Kadıköy Akademi , an urban center, which is open to the contribution of any party about any local topic. Through the work and activities by Kadıköy Akademi, Kadıköy Municipality accumulates ideas and contributions at a local level about a variety of topics through collective and participatory processes.
Mor Akademi (Purple Akademi) is active in the subject of gender politics under Kadıköy Akademi. Mor Akademi is a network of women who meet regularly at the premises of Kadıköy Akademi. On its first meeting in the summer of 2015, organized by the request of Gender Equality Commission of Kadıköy Municipality, Mor Akademi discussed local issues about gender and what a local government is capable of in the subject of Women-Friendly Cities. Without distinction of age, status or background, the Mor Akademi network continues to expand with the volunteering participation of women who are interested in local gender equality .
Throughout the months of October and November, Mor Akademi discussed the organization and arrangement of the Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop . During the meetings of Mor Akademi, women working at Kadıköy Municipality, female officials of other local governments, non-governmental organizations, academicians and women who are personally interested in the subject came together and defined the contents, schedule, program of the event as well as the guests and women’s and LGBTI organizations that should be invited to the workshop. Thus, a workshop that targeted participation in the determination of local gender policies was also in itself prepared and organized with another participatory process.
Forum and Workshop Event
Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality workshop was designated as two separate events in two halves of a day, on the one hand for the purpose of receiving direct demands from women and on the other hand for enabling women’s organizations to take part in decision making processes.
In the morning until lunch break, at Kadıköy Women’s Forum, after the framework presentation by City Planner Yıldız Tokman about “Women and Local Governments”, women from various neighborhoods and districts of Kadıköy, from a variety of backgrounds and of a broad range of ages, spoke out about their demands, complaints, and solid suggestions for implementation of relevant municipal services .
On the second half of the day, under five main subjects designated as the basis of the Local Equality Action Plan of Kadıköy, five groups were formed by participating NGOs, public servants, local government offices, academics, and female/LGBT+ citizens. Within each subject group, the participants shared their opinions, suggestions, experience and knowledge about that particular subject. The main subjects of Kadıköy’s targeted local equality action plan were defined during the preparation process by Mor Akademi as “Combating Violence against Women”, “Women and Health”, “Urban Municipal Services and Women”, “Women’s Employment and Education” and “Gender Awareness, Women’s Participation and Representation”. During the workshops under the aforementioned subjects, women with field experience or women that are interested in the subject, women from the municipality, from civil society and universities discussed in two sessions. They spoke about “the existing situation, solutions and suggestions for practice” and developed the outline for the local equality action plan for Kadıköy Municipality. At the end of the day, the spokeswomen of each group announced the outputs of each workshop .
Participation Facts and Figures of Kadıköy Women’s Forum
In the Women’s Forum section of Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop, about 200 women from various districts and neighborhoods of Kadıköy, from women’s organizations, municipalities and NGOs were present. Throughout the Women’s Forum, around 40 women spoke out their demands and complaints. During and after the Forum, from various neighborhoods of Kadıköy, 59 women filled in the optionally-anonymous survey forms and put them into “Purple Ballot Boxes” specially designed for the event.
Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop consisted of two separate events: one being an open forum and the other being a closed workshop.
Kadıköy Women’s Forum started in the morning after a short welcoming message for participating women, with a video presentation containing the existing services of Kadıköy Municipality in the subject of gender equality.
Following the video, Aykurt Nuhoğlu, the Mayor of Kadıköy, delivered a short speech to express Kadıköy Municipality’s willingness to take urgent actions as well as implement projects to make a change in people’s lives and living standards. Nuhoğlu further expressed that the Municipality will take into account the outputs of the Workshop in implementing its services for the empowerment of women and said he believed that this event will bring efficient outcomes.
The guest speaker at Kadıköy Women’s Forum, City Planner Yıldız Tokman made a presentation titled “Local Governments and Women”, pointing out to the importance of local governments for the female-friendly approach and gender politics and spoke about the definition of local gender equality and local equality action plan within the context of women’s daily lives and local government services.
After Yıldız Tokman’s presentation, in Kadıköy Women’s Forum, women expressed their wishes, suggestions and complaints. The Forum was moderated by Sinem Mısırlıoğlu, the Former Coordinator of Women-Friendly Cities Program of the UN and the Forum lasted for about one and a half hour. After lunch break, the Workshop sessions started in five closed groups. The group talks were held in two sessions and throughout these sessions, suggestions were made for practical implementation, cooperation and sustainability. After the discussions and the recording of outputs, all participants of the Workshop gathered once again and by the moderator of each group, the outputs of each group were shared with all participants.After the sharing of the outputs, the event of Kadıköy Women’s Forum and Local Equality Workshop was closed.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Kadıköy Municipality began to put into practice the resolutions put forth in the Local Equality Action Plan with the perspective of becoming a women-friendly city. Preparations are currently continuing for opening a Social Equality Unit and Women’s Solidarity Center.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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 Women Friendly Cities (2014). Women Friendly Cities. Retrieved from http://www.kadindostukentler.org/wfc-women-friendly-city.php
 Kadıköy Belediyesi (n.d.). Kadıköy Municipality Social Equity Unit. Retrieved from http://en.kadikoy.bel.tr/genel/kadikoy-municipality-social-equity-unit
 Include Gender (2016). The Istanbul Convention: Combating Violence Against Women. Retrieved from http://www.includegender.org/about-gender-equality/conventions/istanbul-convention-combating-violence-against-women-2/
 Asia-Pacific Portal for Gendr Equality (2012). Law No 6284 on the Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Women. Retrieved from http://www.asiapacificgender.org/national-polices-legislation/law-no-6284-protection-family-and-prevention-violence-against-women
 Kadıköy Belediyesi (n.d.). Geographical Position. Retrieved from http://en.kadikoy.bel.tr/Kadikoy/Geographical-position
 Gazette Kadikoy (2015). KADINLAR FORUMDA BULUŞTU. Retrieved from http://www.gazetekadikoy.com.tr/haberDetay.aspx?haberID=7873
Women Friendly Cities: http://www.kadindostukentler.org/project-leap.php [English]; http://www.kadindostukentler.org/wfc-women-friendly-city.php [English]
Kadıköy Municipality: http://www.kadikoy.bel.tr/Haberler/kadikoy-belediyesi-kadinlari-dinliyor [BROKEN LINK]