Bahreyn Kraliyet Kadın Üniversitesi'nde Dünya Kadınlar Günü vesilesiyle yapılan konuşma

Hatun Demirer 11.03.2015
Mr. President,
Distinguished Academicians,
Dear Students,

I salute you all from my heart.

It is a great honor for me to be invited to this university which is dedicated to educating women

Today, I will talk about us, women.

Just 3 days ago we celebrated International Women's Day. On this occasion, I congratulate everybody’s International Women’s Day.

Every year, as of 8th of March, issues related with women intensively come to the world agenda.

Of course, one specific day can never be enough for solving any problem that women face today. One single day can never cure anything. It is just symbolic. However, for solving any problem, first of all, one should be aware of existence of the problem. So, this specific day creates a suitable intellectual environment all around the world for women, Governments and NGO’s to dive into awareness raising activities.

After this week as well, issues related with women continue to keep their places as major subjects on Governments’ programs and agendas. Unfortunately, although we are living in an age of space, there are centuries old serious problems that women face all over the world. Discriminatory laws and practices against women persist everywhere. You can reach the relevant statistics from different sources through internet. I’ll just share some of them:
Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours. They produce half of the world’s food. Yet, they earn only 10% of the world’s income. Women form the majority of the world’s poorest people. There is a huge gap between the literacy levels of men and women. Violence against women is still a major issue all around the world. It exists almost in all countries. Women’s access to justice is often paired with discriminatory obstacles in law as well as in practice. Multiple forms of discrimination further aggravates economic hardship, exclusion and violence against women. The status and rights of women differ between richer and poorer countries. Women of poorer countries are in a more disadvantaged position when compared to the richer countries. For the worst, even at this age, there are reports that, in several countries, testing for genetic defects is also used to determine the sex of an unborn child for the purpose of aborting females only. Yes, most unfortunately, in some countries, female fetus even does not have the right to live. Life is the very basic and God given right of any human being. Actually these were the practices of the Cahiliyya period. Despite the passing thousand years, nothing has changed on women’s front in some specific countries. There are beliefs, traditions, cultural norms, habits, and even superstitions that create extra hurdles for women in general.

And on top of all these facts, we are living in a male dominated world. But, putting the blame only on a male dominated world would not be equitable too. I believe that the biggest challenge today is the indifference of women themselves in general to their own problems, rights and status.

Today, in the first quarter of the 21st Century, if we acknowledge that women are not still on equal footing with men, and if the word of “discrimination”, “unemployment”, “illiteracy”, “violence”, “rape”, and “mortality rates” are often used in the same sentences with the word of “women”, then, personally I believe that we, women, have no right at all to be indifferent to our own problems. Yes, first and foremost, we have to be aware of our own problems. For example, if today violence against women is still an important issue, then, on individual level, we should also question ourselves as women. Any man treating his wife badly was once an innocent small boy of another woman.
We, women, have many problem and greater responsibilities in life when compared to men. This is an established fact. We always carry more than one hat. Being a mother is the proudest hat that any woman inherently carry throughout her life. Being a mother is a blessing of God for all of us. And, this blessing also gives us a heavy responsibility: to raise our kids as good human beings and responsible citizens. If we don’t plant the notions of love, affection, compassion, equity and equality in our children’s hearts and minds, especially and particularly in our son’s, we cannot expect the world change into a better place for women.

Distinguished Audience,

Yes, it is true that, we have a real tough world out there for women in general. But, to downgrade this matter only to gender issues would also be misleading. We have to try to see the big picture.

Women encompass half of the total population of the world and of the countries. This is an immense power. As long as discriminations against women continue, empowerment of women become impossible. If countries cannot empower their women, they can neither have a peaceful society nor sustainable development and prosperity. At this specific point, importance of education comes to the forefront. Access to education makes a difference in women’s lives in any society.

Yes, these are the magic words: access to education.

Since the beginning of the last century, women have more access to education and as a result immense changes have taken place regarding women’s rights. Of course, still we cannot mention gender equality globally at this time. But, we have to admit that women all around the world gradually began to take their rightful places in societies that they are living in. With exceptions, countries and governments in general are more conscious about the problems related with women. Positive steps are being taken to this end.

Again, if we leave aside the countries with specific traditions and conditions, we may say that in general, and compared to some other periods of time, women are more actively involved in social, cultural, commercial and political lives of their societies.

Regional and multinational organizations are keeping this issue high on their agendas.

We should remember that at the beginning of the 20th century, only 2-3 countries in the world allowed women to vote. Today, that right is almost universal.

So again, we may say that in contemporary world, women are driving change and making a difference in all fields; as scientists, businesswomen, academicians, politicians and parliamentarians, lawyers and judges, etc.

With equal education opportunities, women have proven that they can be as successful as men in any profession.

So, young ladies, you can be as successful as your brothers in any profession. You just have to stick to your education and have a plan for your personal lives.

Dear Students,

Societies with wise leaderships are aware of the fact that investing in women is investing for the future of their nations.

Turkey and Bahrain have similarities in their histories that we can rightfully be proud of.

What makes Bahrain a very special country is actually reflected in this university and in this hall.

Looking from here, for sure you all look beautiful. But better than that, you look as full of energy and dynamism.

Again, what makes Bahrain so unique and special is Bahraini women’s education level, intellectual and social capacity.

Bahraini women have managed gracefully to combine the traditions and multicultural features of this lovely island with contemporary values in their daily lives.

Bahraini women’s dynamism is the true reflection of the Kingdom and all Bahrainis.

Educated women means educated societies. Bahrain, in that sense, has always been a pioneer in this region since 1928.

You should be proud that your country is the first Gulf state providing education opportunities for women. You should be proud that Bahrain is also the first Gulf state to have social organizations for women since 1965. And you should be proud that His Majesty the King supports and promotes the empowerment of Bahraini women.

And for my part, I am also proud to be posted as Ambassador of Turkey to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Working in brotherly country is really important. But, working in a country where women have a well-respected status is the best. And you have a lovely country in that sense.

Distinguished Audience,

While I have the opportunity, I also would like to share some information about the status of Turkish women.

From a historical point of view, Turkey may be seen as an exemplary country among the Islamic states with regard to gender equality and in providing rights to women in the social and political life.

My country’s commitment to women’s rights dates back to the times of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. In 1920’s Mustafa Kemal Atatürk launched intensive reforms for providing women with equal rights and opportunities. The Republican reforms brought radical changes to the status of the Turkish women. The underlying goals of these reforms were to position women securely in the public sphere and to make them active in all aspects of social life.

Turkey is a Muslim but a secular country. Adoption of secularism was the biggest basic reform in Turkey at the beginning of 20th century. This means that in Turkey religion and state affairs are totally separated from each other and the country is governed by the rule of law.

Turkish women have equal rights with Turkish men including the matters affecting everyday life such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. Turkish Civil Code was adopted in 1926 and applied on all Turkish nationals without exception.

Women in Turkey have been granted the right to vote and to stand for elections earlier than many other countries. Turkish women can vote in local elections since 1930 and has the right of full suffrage since 1934.

As a result of the social and political reforms realized since 1920’s, the role, life style and status of Turkish women have been drastically changed. Currently, equality of Turkish men and women is under the guaranty of the Turkish Constitution.

And stronger legal status has also strengthened the self-esteem of the Turkish women in general and they began to take their rightful shares and places in all sectors of life.
The ratio of female managers in Turkey is equal to the top world average and that of the European Union. Turkey is ranking second in the world for women CEO positions. The number of female deputies in Parliament is gradually increasing, currently around 15%. Turkey is one of the few countries having a female Prime Minister. H.E. Mrs. Tansu Çiller served as the Turkish Prime Minister between 1993 and 1996. There are currently 32 women Ambassadors of Turkey serving all around the world.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Academicians,
Dear Students,

I don’t want to be remembered as a boring Ambassador. So, I will cut short by stressing two important points as a summary:

First one is the importance of equal education opportunities. Bahrain and Turkey are exemplary countries in that sense. We can be proud of our countries.

Second point is the responsibility of any women as mothers: to raise our children properly. I am blessed with one daughter and with one son. As all mothers, I am doing my best to raise my kids first and foremost as good human beings. I am trying to treat them equal. By treating them equal, I am hoping that, when they are grown up, they will not have any inherent feeling of inferiority or superiority, but just feeling of equality. I am hoping that feeling of equality with any other human being will prevail in their hearts and minds. Men and women, we are all humans, and dignity of humanity should prevail at the end.

Thank you.

Kemal Demirciler Ambassador
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08.30 - 16.30 / 08.30 - 16.30

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