Leadership Training for Turkish Women’s NGOs Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence


From August 22 to September 5, 2015, HasNa brought a group of NGO professionals from Turkey to Washington D.C. for training on leadership skills, non-profit management and communication skills to promote women’s empowerment in their communities. The participants come from different backgrounds and they work on a variety of issues such as human rights, women’s rights, sexual and reproductive rights, legal and advocacy work, women’s education and fighting gender-based violence. Some of these NGO professionals work in southeastern Turkey, which represents a fragile, impoverished region further afflicted by ethnic tensions and in need of conflict prevention.


In recent years, there has been an increased focus by the national government and religious leaders on women’s rights in Turkey. With the added motivation of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, a number of laws have been put into place regarding equality, anti-discrimination, marriage rights, ‘honor killings’, and women’s shelters. Unfortunately, legal mandates and reality are not consistent. Turkey ranked 125th out of 136 countries on the Global Gender Gap Report in 2014. Personal accounts and cultural norms reflect the challenges women face within their families and communities. Local NGO’s are trying to meet the urgent legal, psychological, and social needs of women through providing better and more accessible shelters, outreach, support groups and education. HasNa recognizes the need to build capacity within and between these NGO’s through bridging gaps and partnering with local members, while respecting their knowledge of local culture and needs. 


HasNa aims to provide leadership and technical training as well as the tools required for combating the problems faced by women in Turkey. More specifically, HasNa’s training program addresses NGO empowerment, integration of men into the gender dialogue, and creating stronger gender programs. 


  • To advance gender equality and women’s participation in Turkish civil society by building non-profit management knowledge within women’s organizations
  • To assist trainees in strengthening individual and collective team capacity through gaining new outreach and communication skills to promote women’s empowerment in their communities, as well as to encourage men and boys to re-evaluate traditional gender roles and power dynamics
  • To give NGO leaders necessary support to build a regional network or coalition of NGOs addressing gender-based violence and women’s rights

Program Activities

Leaders (seven women and four men) from nine women’s NGOs traveled to the U.S. for training in leadership, conflict resolution, and domestic violence intervention. They attended workshops at HasNa and other American NGOs geared to helping women become change agents. The men were introduced to techniques for reevaluating traditional gender roles and power dynamics.

HasNa’s training model encouraged listening and effective communication skills. We emphasized experiential learning to help connect research-based information to practical applications. This is where the role of our local D.C. based NGO partners was crucial (The Foundation Center, MenEngage, The American Red Cross, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Freedom House, and the American Psychological Association). Through the workshops and interactive information sessions they helped our participants see NGOs at work. The training modules covered several aspects of non-profit management and gender-based violence programming.

At the end of the program, the participants came up with individual as well as joint action plans that include forming a coalition to organize their efforts and support each other. Back in Turkey, trainees will implement outreach strategies to educate stakeholders in their communities who have social capital in order to build influence in addressing gender-based violence. 

How You Can Help

HasNa will continue helping women’s NGOs in Turkey because of their consistent demands for training. HasNa is planning a second phase of this program in 2016, which will focus primarily on engaging men and boys in discussion on gender issues. If you would like to support this training program, please make a donation or contact us to get involved.