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As in all developed and developing countries, gender mainstreaming (or gender equality) is a pressing topic of conversation in Turkey, and is seen as an area where there is room for improvement. In fact, the situation is not as bad as it seems. Then, you might ask, "How can identifying gender inequality be a good thing?" Let me give you an answer: being aware of a problem and making an effort to change it is a sign of development.
Let’s say that your keyboard is missing the letter “a”. You wouldn’t know about this until you tried typing “awareness” and again, you wouldn’t have noticed its absence until that moment. Just like I haven’t noticed the absence of the word “awareness” in the first 59 words I typed. Fortunately, my keyboard has the letter “a”. J Thankfully, Turkey is making significant efforts to improve gender equality.
Financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey, and led by the British Council, the two-year “Gender Mainstreaming in Education” project recently ended with the cooperation of the Turkish Ministry of National Education. Overall, 8,000 teachers, 12,000 students, and 1,000 families have been contacted directly under this study at more than 250 face-to-face meetings. With these staggering numbers, it can be hard to really visualise the magnitude of the project, but think of the number of students that 8,000 teachers will be able to impact in the years to come. Or think about how these 12,000 students, as adults, will help to build a better society as they become the influencers and policymakers of the future.
The efforts extend far beyond these face-to-face engagements, of course. Twenty-three million people have been reached via media campaigns. The teams, which have worked devotedly to spread awareness across all layers of society, have so many memories from the dozens of guest appearances on TV shows that it is almost impossible to fit these two years into a single piece.
No one is immune to prejudice. We cannot deny that. For example, when you say a professor of physics, what image comes to your mind—a man or a woman in a white coat? This actually relates to the "records" you keep in our mind. So we said to ourselves that if we wanted to establish gender mainstreaming in education, then we had to head right to the beginning of the subject – that means taking a deep breath, and challenging the stories we tell ourselves through these records. This is where we started. Now we ask you what we asked all of them: “Are you ready to rewrite?”
If you say you are in, then watch our campaign video.
And if you are curious about our future... You should check out our Flickr page to see enthusiastic teachers and eyes that glimmer with hope.
Come on in and rewrite everything with us.