Women as Peacebuilders in Turkish Civil Society

Event Details

When: March 30, 2021 • 10:00 am – 11:00 am EDT

Where: Online Only

Women in Turkey continue to face significant challenges to their rights and protections. Last year alone, at least 300 women lost their lives in instances of gender-based violence in Turkey. During the same year, the country ranked 130th out of 153 in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report based on women’s economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Despite these worrying trends, and to make matters worse, Turkey recently withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence by presidential decree.

Nonetheless, as fears and anxieties over the very real threats to women’s rights and security multiply, so too do the voices of those who aim to draw attention to the political, systemic, and social inequities faced by women and girls across the country. Civil society and community organizations, academics, activists, and everyday citizens continue to mobilize, calling out for gender equality and demanding justice for the victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

Join us for a conversation with long-time women’s rights activist and advocate Sevna Somuncuoğlu as we explore the development of challenges faced by women today as well as the path forward in combating gender inequality and gender-based violence in Turkey.

Protests in Turkey against the country's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

Photo: İzel Sezer / csgorselarsiv.org

Speaker Bio

Civil Society, Women's Rights, and Film Activist Sevna Somuncuoglu

Sevna Somuncuoğlu is the founder of Demir Leblebi Women’s Association, an Ankara-based nonprofit organization that works to promote peacebuilding and conflict resolution by elevating conversations on women’s rights within Turkey. She is also a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators’ Network where she recently assisted 15 local mediators in facilitating capacity building, advocacy, and outreach workshops for women’s organizations across 18 cities.

Somuncuoğlu graduated from TED Ankara College in 1980 and from Dokuz Eylül University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 1984, during which time she also began to commit herself to the promotion of human and women’s rights in Turkey and beyond. Over the course of her 30-year career, Somuncuoğlu has served Turkish civil society in a variety of roles, from board member and director to consultant and trainer. She has developed a wide array of training modules and has conducted workshops on cross-cutting topics such as gender-mainstreaming, nonprofit management, and the history of the feminist movement. In addition to her engagement in the field of social change, Somuncuoğlu is also a communications expert, and works as a filmmaker and scriptwriter for MG Communications Strategy Agency.