Mimoza Women’s Association (Mimoza Kadın Derneği) aims to combat all kinds of violence arising from gender inequality and to raise awareness. The association will use the grant support from our Gender Equality Fund to improve its organisational capacity and structure by covering its human resources expenses.
Read below our interview:
Mimoza Women’s Association is receiving a grant from our foundation for the first time in the 2022 period of our Gender Equality Fund. Can you tell us about the purpose and activities of your association?
Our association was established on 19 October 2020, by seven founding members that include lawyers, sociologists, social workers, and healthcare professionals. We have 52 members. We are a member of the Mersin Women’s Platform, Mersin Education Monitoring Board, and Mersin City Council. Also, we are members of the Women’s Platform for Equality, the Women’s Coalition and the Women’s Shelters and Counselling Centres Assembly.
Although those of us in the association’s management have been involved in women’s studies for many years, this is the first time we are working professionally in a women’s organisation. Because of this, we received trainings on gender equality, women’s rights, human rights, combating violence, case monitoring, migration, etc. We provide legal and psychological counselling support. Even though we are a newly established association, the number of applications we have received face-to-face, via social media and telephone is close to 500.
We see it as our responsibility to build solidarity with everyone who has a say in this field to combat violence against women and to increase our power.
The first interviews with the applicants are conducted by sociologists, family counsellors or social workers. Our lawyers provide the necessary information, if there is a need for legal support. Afterwards, we refer the applicant to the Bar Association’s Legal Aid Office. If there is a demand or need for psychological support, we ensure that the applicant receives psychological counselling. If the women request to go to a shelter due to safety risks, we place them in shelters in collaboration with the relevant authorities. We carry out the necessary follow-up and monitoring of the applications. Also, we follow the court cases of femicides, harassment cases and rapes. We do not provide financial aid, but we refer women to the social service units of municipalities in line with their needs.
Our association cares about ensuring women’s representation in decision-making mechanisms because we believe that women’s equal participation will partially prevent the problems mentioned above. We have been working on this issue by launching our diplomacy unit. This also reflects our attitude against the reduction of diplomacy to the macro-field between states and the idea that it belongs to men. As the Mimoza Women’s Association, we see it as our responsibility to build solidarity with everyone who has a say in this field to combat violence against women and to increase our power.
Considering Mersin’s demographic and socio-political structure, can you tell us about the most common problems faced by women, LGBTI+s and children?
Women in Turkey and around the world are subjected to gender-based violence and discrimination. Mersin is at a critical point regarding violence against women and gender inequality and ranks 4th in the country. Mersin is a multilingual and multicultural city where internally displaced people settled in the 1990s and a large number of Syrian refugees have arrived since the war in Syria. Gender inequality in access to economic opportunities is even deeper for forcibly displaced women.
When disadvantaged groups, women, refugees and LGBTI+s are subjected to violence and discrimination, problems in accessing the complaint mechanisms can deepen the effects of violence.
Mersin is also home to the agricultural sector, where women are exploited as cheap labour, and in addition to economic exploitation, they are subjected to rape and harassment. They are subjected to rights violations by being forced into drug use and prostitution, which deepens women’s poverty.
When disadvantaged groups, women, refugees and LGBTI+s are subjected to violence and discrimination, problems in accessing the complaint mechanisms can deepen the effects of violence. Our association participates in educational activities to ensure the equality of all individuals in society. We raise awareness in line with the requirements of Law No. 6284, CEDAW and Lanzarote Conventions to end violence against women and girls and work to expand this understanding.
In addition to the pandemic, the economic crisis has made vulnerable groups even more vulnerable. How did this situation affect women and children? Can you tell us about the changes in the needs of the groups you work with and the work you do to meet these needs?
During the pandemic, it was reported that violence against women and girls increased in many countries and calls to domestic violence hotlines and shelter requests increased. Due to lockdowns, women had to stay with their abusers, making it difficult for them to receive support. Problems in these areas, including restrictions on women’s access to emergency helplines and the disruption of public services, have exacerbated these negative situations. These disruptions also jeopardised the access of survivors of violence to healthcare and psychosocial support. During the pandemic, even though we could not carry out fieldwork due to quarantines, we continued to support women through a hotline 24/7 and our social media accounts.
What kind of cooperation do you develop with public institutions, local administrations, and civil society organisations? How do these collaborations contribute to your work?
In partnership with the Mor Salkım Women’s Solidarity Association in Bursa, we are implementing a project in Mersin, which has previously been implemented in Van, Trabzon, and Edirne provinces. Within the scope of this project, a protocol was signed with the Mersin Chamber of Drivers and Automobile Owners, and 150 taxi drivers were trained on gender equality.
During the pandemic, even though we could not carry out fieldwork due to quarantines, we continued to support women through a hotline 24/7 and our social media accounts.
The drivers were also informed about what to do when a woman who has been subjected to violence gets into their cars, and to which institutions they should refer the women. In line with our suggestions, the project’s brochures were translated into Kurdish, Arabic and English. Now, a protocol will be signed with the Tarsus Chamber of Drivers in the coming period to provide gender equality training to taxi drivers in Tarsus.
Women who apply to our association are first informed about their legal rights by our lawyer. Then, if there is a need for more extensive support, they are referred to the Mersin Bar Association Women’s Rights Centre and the Legal Aid Office. We also contact the Women’s Counselling Centres of municipalities and the Provincial Directorate of Family and Social Policies to place women in shelters if there are security threats. As a member of the Women’s Shelters and Counselling Centres Assembly, we can request and receive support regarding the applications of women.
We became a member of the Mersin Metropolitan Municipality City Council Politics and Women’s Units. Together with the Mersin Metropolitan Municipality and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), we will organise a 4-day workshop for the staff of the municipality’s shelter and social services unit. We participated in Beraberce Association’s Peace Culture Training Network – PEACE NET programme. As a member of the Women’s Platform for Equality and the Women’s Coalition, we carry out joint policy development and monitoring activities on women’s rights, violence against women and gender equality.
We are in collaboration with the Çukurova Migration and Refugee Monitoring Association, we participate in reporting and monitoring trainings. With Mersin 7 Colours LGBT+ Association, we held a panel on Gender Equality from the Perspective of Intersectionality. We shared our experiences within the scope of the Empowerment Project of the Roma Women’s Rights and Equality Association. We also collaborate with the Mersin Human Rights Association on rights violations.
We raise awareness in line with the requirements of Law No. 6284, CEDAW and Lanzarote Conventions to end violence against women and girls.
Which capacity development areas will you focus on with the grant support provided by our Foundation? How do you expect this support to contribute to your association?
The rise in violence against women increases the need for civil society organisations working in this field, and therefore there is an increase in applications to our association. This brings with it the need for human and financial resources. Our association’s financial resources consist of member contributions and donations, which are limited. The presence of paid and professional staff is crucial for the continuity of our activities, but due to a lack of financial resources, this cannot always be realised.
Although the necessary services are provided diligently by volunteers, our work may be interrupted from time to time due to the busy schedules of our members. Because of this, the support provided by the Support Foundation for Civil Society and Turkey Mozaik Foundation within the scope of the Gender Equality Fund is very valuable for us. With this institutional support, we can continue our work by covering our association’s human resources needs.
About Mimoza Women’s Association
Established in Mersin, Mimoza Women’s Association works to combat all kinds of violence arising from gender inequality and to raise awareness about gender equality and violence against women. The Association works to empower women socially, economically, politically and culturally.