Antalya (Mediterranean), Bursa (Marmara region), Gaziantep, Malatya, Mardin (south-eastern Anatolia) and Samsun (Black Sea coast) are being added to the list of "women friendly cities" as part of the "United Nations Human Rights of Women and Girls Protection and Development Program" implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The cities follow the examples of Izmir, Kars, Nevşehir, Şanlıurfa, Trabzon and Van that were made part of the "women friendly cities" program in 2007. The program is joined by the Ministry of the Interior General Directorate of Local Administrations, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA).
The project evaluates a city as "women friendly" if every citizen can experience economic, social and political opportunities provided by the city in an equal manner. The project pursues a number of aims, e.g. the protection and development of women rights by creating policies by the means of political and financial commitments on local and national levels; the development of capacities of local administrations for designing good quality services for women of all ages; raising the awareness of the public for women human rights.
Second stage of the program
Project co-ordinator Zeynep Başarankut-Tan told bianet that women rights in Turkey were usually dealt with in projects on a national level. However, Başarankut-Tan explained that this project was featuring local applications and thus increased the capacity to improve the lives of women directly.
"The local administrations are the units that directly affect the lives of individuals", she noticed and stated that creating local mechanisms of equality would create a big difference in the life of women.
Başarankut-Tan said that the pilot program with the first six cities was a success. By adding a further six provinces at the second stage of the program they try to achieve more accurate and clearer results. Answers are being sought to questions like "What is a gender-sensitive budget" or "What does it mean to provide equality services?"
"Our actual aim is to complete and finalize local legislations", Başarankut-Tan said.
The "Women Friendly Cities" project includes activities like increasing the capacities of women non-governmental organizations, establishing local gender equality units and commissions and developing and carving out local gender equality action plans. The project is expected to be finished in 2013. (GY/VK)