The Women's Movement in Antalya

Dilek Metin Sert

Ankara University, Women's Studies Graduate

It is a fact that there are various affiliations between a city and women. Within this framework, the opportunities and obstacles a city provides to women along with the interactions and contributions of women to the city present itself as a research subject. This study aims to examine the relationship between women and the city of Antalya. The framework of the study is limited to an examination of organised women's associations and their institutional experiences. Although the subject of the research focused on women's associations in Antalya it is believed that the study will allow for general inferences.

The study was essentially divided into two parts. In the first part, the historical development of the women's movement in Turkey was examined based on the available sources. Emphasis was given to developments in the post-1980 era, but the Ottoman and early Republican period was also stressed to the extent necessary. In the second part, women's associations specifically located in Antalya were examined in detail. The study also includes associations that aren’t specifically women’s associations, but are engaged in activities for women.  Moreover independently of these associations, the work of the Antalya Women's Platform, which was very active in Antalya for a certain period, was specifically examined.

When going through women’s associations, first a literature review was made in order to establish a set of numerical data.  In this context, several sources were used including the Economic and Social History Foundation of Turkey NGO Guide 2005 and Antalya City Museum NGO Guide. This study was conceived to identify associations concerned with women and 20 associations and 5 initiatives and/or representations have been identified. Then 22 meetings were held with the managers or administrators of these associations. During these meetings the relationship between the city and women from the experience of the organisation in question was studied to be understood.  In addition, there was the intention to create a database about these associations containing data such as contact information, institutional history and number of members, which were gathered over the course of these interviews. After these interviews, documents and photographs were gathered from these organisations and given to the Antalya City Museum. Moreover Süheyla Doğan sent a CD from Çanakkale chronicling the actions of the Women’s Platform and containing images of various events. In addition, oral history interviews were made with women activists Perihan Akay and Nilgün Eroğlu Üstün who witnessed the various stages of the women's movement after 1980 in Antalya. Süheyla Doğa, one of the key witnesses in this period and who no longer lives in Antalya, was interviewed live over the internet as well. Another person that was interviewed was Prof. Dr. Nurşen Adak, who was involved in the establishment of the Akdeniz University Women’s Studies and Gender Research and Application Centre, which is expected to provide new perspectives into the women's movement in Antalya.
The results obtained during the inquiries and meetings are in the conclusion section of the study.

Conclusion and Evaluation
In the Turkish conjecture, the 1980s were a significant period in the women’s movement. With the 12 September 1980 Turkish coup d'état, the women’s movement experienced a momentum under the name of “New Social Movements”. However, it can be said that the decline in public opposition during the 90s fragmented the women’s movement. In this context, with the influx of women who moved from Ankara and Istanbul to Antalya the independent women's movement is seen to have a gender-based perspective. Therefore, looking from a gender perspective the women's movement in Antalya concentrated on gender inequality and domestic violence and was highly active from the beginning of the 1990s until the end of the decade. However, it won’t be very accurate to speak of an active women's movement in the last few years. Because nearly all the work is geared towards projects, those NGOs that don’t have any ongoing projects can be considered to be dormant.

When we look at women’s associations and associations that work for the betterment of women in Antalya, another noticeable phenomenon is the intensive emphasis on secularism and the prevailing approach that defines a woman through the concept of motherhood. As a result, the associations in question can be said to have largely contributed to the process of integrating “successful woman” in modern society. Furthermore, a majority of women who are active in these associations maintain a certain distance to the concept of feminism and persistently point out that they have nothing to do with feminism and feminists. This juxtaposition is apparent when on one hand they support the CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) Convention, while on the other hand they reject the concept of “gender inequality”.

The majority of associations work together with community centres to teach reading and writing to women living in disadvantaged areas, organise courses that will equip them with skills and integrate women and their children who moved from rural areas to life in the city with an enlightened modernist approach.

This study, which centred on non-governmental organisations operating in Antalya in 2008, was based on the project “Women's Movement in Antalya” carried out under the scope of the Antalya City Museum Project.

Please click here for the full text of the study.