AYŞE YILMAZ
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AYŞE YILMAZ

THE LIFE STRUGGLE OF A WORKING WOMAN

Interviewer: Senem Yıldırım
Place: Evdirhan
Date: 15.12.2015

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Interview

Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m from Bucak, Burdur. I was born and raised there. I went to primary school until the 5th grade after which I quit school. Then I got married at the age of 17. I live in Bucak. Each day I commute from Bucak to Antalya for work. I have three kids. My husband went to prison because of a traffic accident and received a 10-year sentence. I come here to work at the Evdirhan excavations where I earn a living and can take care of my children.

Did you work before your husband’s accident?
No, I didn’t, but now I have to work. I’m a tenant and my husband’s workplace wasn’t of help to us. My father is looking after us, dealing with everything and my children’s education.

How did you start working here?
I came here through my friend. He had previously worked in another excavation. He asked me if I wanted to come join him and that’s how I began to work here. We’ve been working together for 4 months now. I’m happy to work here. I like my friends and the professors are very nice people.

What exactly are you doing here?
We excavate, clean the soil, cut the shrubs and so on… I just finished today’s work.

What do you intend to do afterwards?
I will be at home with my children until the end of winter.

Was it the first time you worked?
No, it wasn’t. I worked in a marble quarry before, in a company and also in a school. I tried to take care of my children as best as I could.

Is it nice to work?
Of course, wouldn’t it be? You earn and spend money as you like.

What do your children think about this situation?
They tell me to continue to work so that they can buy whatever they want.

Is the income that you receive from here enough to get by?
No, because I’m not a homeowner and I have three children. We provide them with an education as best as we can. I really want them to get an education. One of my children has quit which makes me very upset. My son quit school and one of my daughters will go to a Girls’ Vocational High School, while my other daughter will attend a Vocational High School for Commerce. I will do my utmost to offer them an education. I will also take care of my husband.

You said that you left school after primary school. What if you hadn’t?
I always thought about continuing my education and I have regrets. At least I wouldn’t be dependent on anyone and would be able to meet all of the needs of my children.

Is there a profession you would have liked to do?
I wanted to become a police officer. Whenever I saw them on television I thought to myself if one day I would become one as well.

What goals do your daughters have?
The one who attends the Girls’ Vocational High School wants to become a medic. My other daughter attending the Vocational High School for Commerce wants to become a banker. I sincerely hope that they will be able to achieve their dreams. But they will also have to work hard for this. I tell them not to be too sad about their father and think about themselves first. We take care of him, so they shouldn’t be preoccupied with their father’s situation. It’s better for them to attain their goals and save themselves.

What do you think about Evdirhan?
It was the shelter and resting place of inhabitants in the past. Not only this place, but also in İncirhan. It was a neglected place and was renovated. When I was a child our teachers would take us to İncirhan. I wanted to be there during its construction but it didn’t happen. But it is a beautiful place.

Have you ever been to a museum before?
No, I haven’t.

Would you like to?
I don’t have the opportunity. Since I’m staying with my father now I can’t leave him. After this place is refurbished it will become our house.

Do you use the money you earn yourself?
I send it to my husband and provide for his needs.

Do you decide where the money is going to be allocated?
Yes, I decide. For example I didn’t have enough money to buy a school book for my daughter. My father gave me money. I earn 1090 TL. Half of it goes to my husband and the other half to my children. Not much is left and being a tenant makes it much harder.

Where was your husband working?
My husband was the chauffeur of Eşref Özmutlu. He worked at his side for many years. He used to drive him to many places. One day I received a telephone call informing me that my husband had an accident. My father and brothers immediately went to the accident site. My husband was imprisoned the same day. Life for us became much more difficult after that day.

Did the attitude of the people surrounding you change after this incident?
No, it didn’t. It was the same as before.

Is there solidarity between women around you?
Yes, there is among my friends. My friends give me advice regarding work, what places are convenient and what the income is. But currently my father tells me that he will take care of me. I will stay with him until our home is finished.

You went through many financial hardships in your lifetime. Did you face other challenges in life besides these?
No. Until my husband’s incarceration I didn’t have face any hardships. My husband provided for everything and met all of our needs. We never had any difficulties. 

When you come and go from Bucak is there anything you find difficult regarding your work?
Nothing is too difficult for me. I work and earn my own income. I’m physically healthy. If I want to work I will work.

Are you looking favourably on working women?
Yes, I do. Everyone should work and provide for their families without being dependent on anyone. Women should work, whether they are married or not. You can buy everything when you have money.

Do you think that women who don’t work are more oppressed?
Yes, they are more oppressed. Women who don’t work are totally at the whims of their families. They won’t be able to buy what they require. They will always ask themselves what they have become and wish they’d work. When you work you gain in self-confidence.

Do you have any aspirations you want to realise if you were in a better financial situation? Like visiting a favourite location?
I wish I could visit and see all the places. I went to most places with my husband. He took me to Izmir, Istanbul, Ankara...

Where did you like most?
I liked Istanbul the most.

Do you use the Internet?
I know nothing of computers.

Do you read newspapers?
Sometimes, not always. Occasionally I do.

In your opinion have women in Turkey attained their rightful place?
Yes, I think so. They are in their rightful place.  Our situation is much better compared to before. Everything is more relaxed including wearing the clothes you want.

Do you think there is pressure regarding working women?
There isn’t any pressure either.  There isn’t anyone who will prevent their wife from working. Men who don’t allow their wives to work are probably one in forty.

Are you able to act freely and go anywhere comfortably?
Yes, I’m able to. My husband never prevented me. He would only ask me when I went outside. A husband or wife should know where their spouse is going.

You said that you have two daughters. Did you ever told them not to go, wear or do something?
They weren’t raised with any coercion. They are able to wear the clothes they want or do whatever they like. They dress according to their surroundings. My children don’t dress immodestly. They know how to act accordingly. They are adults now.

Is there anything that women can’t do?
Nowadays women are able to everything they want. They can drive and what not. If they weren’t able to they wouldn’t have worked in this place in the dirt. It’s such a heavy job.

What advice would you give women in your situation who have to work and take care of their families?  What should they do? 
They should work as long as they are able to. They shouldn’t rely on anyone and confine themselves to the home. Once you are out of the house it decreases your anxieties and you forget about the problems at home. I would tell them to find a job. I come here and unwind when I’m busy working. It’s only when I return home that my everyday problems come back to me. But when you are here among your colleagues you forget it for a while.

Have you made any new friends here?
Yes. All of them are very good friends of mine. I have friends here from Antalya too. We became friends and visit each other. Our engineers and professors are also fine people.
 
So you’re saying that you would work given the right conditions? 
Yes I would. I’m thinking of taking a rest for a while until the end of winter. I will continue to work with my friends after winter if our professors feel the need to.
 
AYŞE YILMAZ