Turkey’s New Veiled Mayors Speak Up
Çiçek Tahaoğlu - 17/04/2014
For the first time in these local elections, women have started to show themselves. Moreover, women with head scarves, challenging for years to take place in public service have been elected as mayors.
According to the unconfirmed results, Turkey has 7 woman mayors with head scarves now. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Erciş (a district of Van province) Mayor Diba ermiş Keskin, BDP Kocaköy (a district of Diyarbakır province) Mayor Berivan Elif Kılıç, BDP Hazro (a district of Diyarbakır province) Mayor Güler Özavcı Doğu and BDP Bitlis province Co-chairman Mayor Nevin Daşdemir Dağkıran, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Meram (a district of Konya province) Mayor Fatma Toru, Güdül (a district of Ankara province) Mayor Havva Yıldırım and Milhazi (a district of Eskişehir) Mayor Zeynep Akgün.
BDP woman mayors speak:
"We will abolish the male stream with woman mayors"
BDP Diyarbakır Hazro Mayor Güler Özavcı Doğu:
Hazro has a woman mayor for the first time. Moreover, a woman mayor with head scarf. I’m really proud of it.
We experienced February 28 process (a postmodern coup process in 1997). I’m one of the victims of the process. We challenged to participate in public service and in the end we gained our rights. There are a lot of woman mayors with head scarves now. It’s the result of this gain. Kurdish people protect their identities and religions. They respect all beliefs. BDP is party that contains all kinds of ethnicity and religion.
We aim to leave out local governments from strict centralization with the help of co-chairmanship. We think we can abolish the male stream with the woman mayors. Thus, we will focus on woman issues. We will perform our duties with the frame of the impact on gender mainstreaming report. Thereby, we intend women to get involved in life more.
“We'll provide a space for women outside of the house”
BDP Bitlis Co-Mayor Nevin Daşdemir Dağkıran:
I as a co-chairman with head scarf gave importance to my party’s approach to the women’s freedom and took place in it. Bitlis province is conservative. But the people here adopted the co-chairmanship and so defeated the male stream. Former ruling did not serve the women but they abused the women by doing politics of women. We will wipe out this perception. We will prioritize the equal representation of women. We will provide a living space for women outside of the house. We will come together with women and we will carry out the projects in the direction of their demands and needs. I believe the people will be glad with this collaboration.
“ Not even a veiled woman could work in the municipality”
BDP Diyarbakır Kocaköy Mayor Berivan Elif Kılıç:
Kocaköy has a woman mayor for the first time. Our two woman friends take place in the municipality council. It’s very important because women didn’t work in Kocaköy municipality even as a civil servant. Women didn’t get service from the municipality. From now on women will participate in every place where men exist. For the first time women will rule and find solutions to the problems. Women are the half of the community. Women to rule is very crucial.
Until now, there was a problem for women with head scarves in the public places. Today women with head scarves can go everywhere they desire. This is a good thing because we can express ourselves no matter what. My head scarf is not a handicap for my mayorship.
Municipalities serve women but they have no women perspective. BDP will prepare ‘impact on gender mainstreaming’ reports. It will come out how much roads and parks of municipalities serve the women. We will improve other projects according to this.
We will sit on the purple office chairs”
BDP Van Erciş Mayor Diba Ermiş Keskin:
Our head scarves draw attention of people from outside. But women with head scarves have been challenging for years. This challenge belongs to the people. These people include all disparaged people and their beliefs. BDP embraces Kurds, Turks, Atheists, Religionists and all pro-justitia people.
People looking from outside have just noticed us. But we always exist. We have been walking in the righteous path with respect to each other.
Co-chairmanship made us show ourselves as women. It drew attention of Turkey.
This system provided women to be in decision making mechanism with their individualities and voices.
I want to add something; We don’t want to sit on the chairs which former oppressive mayors sat. As you know, all office chairs are swivel chairs. We wanted to have an impact on Turkey’s struggling for democracy and ordered a stable office chair from factory. Moreover, our office chairs will be purple, not black. This color matches with the freedom of women.
AKP Meram Mayor Fatma Toru, graduated from Map and Cadastral
Engineering. She has been working as control engineer, Map-Real Estate and Expropriation Manager, Councilor, Appraisal Comission and Compromising Council member since 1999 in Meram municipality. She participated in Yenice and Çaybaşı Urban Transformation Project. She is 44 and has two children.
* bianet demanded an interview with Fatma Toru. She stated that she would express her opinion written. We will keep you informed if she sends us a feedback.