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Accentuating the “local” in CFLI to advance gender equality in Turkey

Ambassador Rita Rudaitis-Renaud

To create sustainable gender equality, we need local solutions.

Despite a vibrant women’s movement, Turkey ranked 130 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Index 2020, slipping from 105 in 2006. Women in Turkey, and around the world, continue to face inequalities related to economic and political participation.

Violence against women remains the number one women’s rights issue in Turkey. Roughly 4 out of 10 women in the country experience sexual and/or physical violence at least once in their lifetime. Violence against women has been exacerbated in Turkey and globally in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data in Turkey is also often centrally reported, masking important disparities at regional and local levels. Many organizations in Turkey are taking action to better understand and narrow the gender gap at the local level. The Embassy of Canada in Turkey is proud to support their efforts through its Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).

This cycle, the Embassy supported five projects with gender equality as the main theme and two others featuring it as a sub-theme. Among projects this cycle, the Embassy supported initiatives that sought to:

In parallel, the Embassy delivered training on gender-based analysis to address capacity gaps amongst past, current and prospective CFLI partners. Building on this and to mark International Women’s Day, the Embassy and the Consulate launched a gender pledge. This pledge enables both missions in Turkey to “walk the walk” by practically applying a gender framework in day-to-day operations with local partners. For instance, through the pledge, Ankara and Istanbul have committed to proactively invite qualified female-owned or led businesses or companies with strong gender policies and protocols in procurement processes for goods and services. In doing so, the Government of Canada’s policy of promoting greater female engagement in the business world is supported with tangible actions. The Trade Commissioner Service of Canada in Turkey supported the launch of the Turkey chapter of the Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) not-for-profit in 2019. WiRE aims to increase awareness of opportunities for women and promote a more gender-balanced representation in the renewable energy sector.

The Embassy also utilized Mission Cultural Funds, the Post Initiative Fund and the Special Purpose Account to complement and amplify this cycle’s CFLI projects. For example, the Embassy held its second annual human rights award ceremony, bestowing the prize on a longstanding gender activist. A mission-sponsored video screened at the event to raise awareness on gender-based violence in Turkey generated record engagement on the Embassy X (Twitter) account, with over 23,000 views. This triggered the fastest single-day spike in the Embassy’s number of X (Twitter) followers to date.

For an overview of this year’s CFLI activities, watch the video CFLI projects in 2019-2020 from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia & Turkmenistan. You can also check out the public service announcement titled Embassy of Canada in Turkey presents its annual Human Rights 2019 Award to Ms. Canan Güllü to watch a video about this year’s recipient.

Yanindayiz: Unmasking gender disparities at the district level in Turkey

Context: Turkey is no exception to the global challenge of obtaining reliable, gender disaggregated data. While Turkey’s Statistics Institute provides centralized data on economic and political participation, there is limited data at more local levels. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy commits us to investing in policy research, better data collection and evaluation for gender equality. Using its network of data-mining academics and influencers, NGO Yanindayiz (“We are with you” in Turkish) is collecting gender equality data across 224 districts in Turkey. This will inform the establishment of Turkey’s first district-level gender equality index, as part of a multi-year project funded through CFLI.


“We were pleasantly surprised by the number and range of the CSOs, public service providers and activists who participated to the day-long brainstorming session to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive gender equality index. They all agreed that county-level indexing would be a good motivation for local authorities.”

Yanindayizboard member

“We are eagerly awaiting the results of this research, which includes many stakeholders in our country and where every step taken regarding gender equality is important.”

Women’s entrepreneurship organization

“We need to look at achieving gender equality from a holistic perspective such as business life, health and participation. This research seems to have undertaken this task by addressing many themes.”

Ambassador Rita Rudaitis-Renaud handing out maple-leaf cookies.Participants in Yanindayiz’s Expert Consultation brainstorm indicators for the country’s first district-level gender equality index.

Results: While still in its early stages, the project seeks to enhance the quality and availability of gender equality data at the district level in Turkey. This will improve evidence-based decision-making in support of gender equality at the district, regional and national levels in Turkey. It will also increase public awareness of gender equality language, including as an educational tool to engage men and boys in the advancement of gender equality. This complements the activities of the “HeforShe” Campaign, for which Prime Minister Trudeau is an Ambassador.

Demir Leblebi: Creating peace advocates in 13 cities across Turkey

Context: According to the Global Study on the Implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, women’s participation in peacebuilding processes leads to a 35% increase in the probability that a peace agreement will last for at least 15 years. However, women’s official participation is often temporary, their delegated roles more symbolic than substantive, and their capacity to influence directly resisted by local cultural norms.

Through its Feminist International Assistance Policy and its Women, Peace and Security agenda, Canada is committed to better amplifying women’s voices around the world and advocating for their stronger role in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding. This includes working with local women-led organizations at the grassroots level, such as the NGO Demir Leblebi Kadın Derneği. Through CFLI support, this organization implemented a project to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Turkey through “peace dreaming” workshops.

Quotes from Mersin workshop

“Peace starts with me” // “the home is the first battlefront.”

“Peace is where we live non-violent lives in every respect.”

Quotes from final report

“There is a demand for positive peace among women.”

Peace Dreaming workshop participants fill in a “peace wheel,” describing their vision of peace for themselves, at home, in their communities, and across the country.

Medya Arastirmalari Dernegi (MEDAR): Amplifying the voices of local journalists on gender equality issues

Context: Turkey ranked 154 out of 180 in Reporters without Borders’ 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The political climate related to journalism and media freedom has become increasingly restricted in recent years, particularly at the national level. This means that local developments are often sidelined, with very few active local media outlets.

In line with Canada’s international commitment to the protection of media freedom, this project provided a unique opportunity for the CFLI to empower regional citizen journalism networks, with a view to enhancing media pluralism in the country. This included training on digitalization of media, mobile journalism, video journalism, verification & fact-checking in a digital age, digital safety, social media and third-party tools. The project also helped advance Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy core action area on gender equality through a dedicated training module on gender-sensitive news writing, as well as a specific regional initiative on gender-sensitive alternative media to mark International Women’s Day 2020.


“I learned more in one day than in whole journalism degree.”

“It has been seen throughout the project that there is great demand for training sessions on GBA+ methodology and rights-focused approach to media in cities across Turkey.”

Journalists in Samsun being mentored on alternative media, including rights-based and gender-sensitive approaches.

Results: Following training sessions, two regional communication networks were established. Through these networks, participants have been sharing information and news from their cities, thereby improving cooperation between regional media, citizen journalists and civil society. Regional media members have assumed a more gender-sensitive tone in news coverage following sessions on adopting rights-based and gender-sensitive approaches to journalism.

GBA+ Training with CFLI Participants: Encouraging knowledge exchange on gender equality amongst local NGOs

Context: In recent years, the Government of Canada has strengthened its commitment to supporting the full implementation of Gender-Based Analysis plus (GBA+) in the development of all policies and programs. Representatives from the Canadian Foreign Service Institute and the Embassy CFLI program provided one-day GBA+ courses in Ankara and Istanbul to 21 representatives from local NGOs from across the country.


“Exercising the GBA+ method with other participants is a good practice that teaches us a lot.”

“This is the future.”

Results: This training sought to address capacity gaps amongst CFLI partners in terms of gender-based analysis as well as social media advocacy to better capture and promote gender deliverables. Participants actively engaged in group work, including concrete case studies, and learned from one another’s expertise. Ankara hopes to be able to deliver similar training next year, geared towards newer members of organizations with capacity-building needs. This training, also delivered to mission staff, helped to inspire the launch of a gender pledge for both the Embassy and the Consulate, committing both missions to a series of pledges to integrate gender equality in day-to-day operations.

Former and current CFLI partners in Ankara and Istanbul discuss how they can apply GBA+ to their work.

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