In the Women’s Consultation Center and Mentoring Project for Local NGOs, we aim to ensure that women living in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul can access the services they need and feel safe without discrimination in the local community. At the same time, we work to increase the capacity of women to cope with trauma, to enable them to recognize gender-based violence and to support them to learn the mechanisms they can resort to in case of violence. While achieving these goals, we support women to establish a network of solidarity and information dissemination among themselves.
Earthquake Related Activities
Due to the earthquakes that took place in Kahramanmaraş in February 6th, we have shaped some of our work to deal with the effects of the earthquake. In this process, we learned that the anxiety levels our beneficiaries, who could not get over the trauma of the war, increased due to the news they heard from their relatives or encountered on social media and television about the magnitude and impact of the earthquakes. They stated that the fact that Istanbul is an earthquake zone and the sharing of earthquake news about Istanbul also increased their anxiety and fear. They demanded that information meetings be held on what to do during and after the earthquake. Thereupon, we held two information meetings about the earthquake. In the meetings, we went over the precautions that can be taken before, during and after the earthquake and the preparations that can be made. We applied the DROP-COVER-HOLD ON drill together.
Turkish courses started at the Women’s Consultation Center. One of the biggest barriers to refugee women’s access to basic rights and services is the lack of language skills. We aim to facilitate women’s access to services by supporting them in this respect. Courses are given at the center every day in the morning and at noon. In A1 and A2 level courses, women improve their Turkish in terms of introducing themselves, understanding the environment, and expressing their problems and needs. A teacher from the Public Education Center teaches the courses, and women who complete the courses receive a Turkish proficiency certificate given by the Public Education Center.
One of our activities that aims to empower women against violence is Family Meetings. We create key messages to remind that violence against women is a crime in Turkey, and we emphasize these messages at family meetings. In this way, we aim to support the remembrance that violence is a crime. Women attend events with their families. Thus, we have the opportunity to share the messages we have created against violence with the spouses, fathers and brothers of women. We held the first family meeting of the year at the Esenyurt Municipality Seyhan Kahraman Cultural Center with intense participation. We will have three more family meetings throughout the year.