Monday, February 27, 2012

Corporate Philanthropy Day

Many corporations are celebrating Corporate Philanthropy Day today. Started by the Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy it is “intended to build awareness of corporate-community partnerships.” We at TPF believe that’s definitely worth celebrating – and the perfect way to close out our Empowering Turkish Girls campaign.

Corporate-community partnerships have been critical to TPF’s work, especially recently. Partnering with TurkCell, TPF has been working on a campaign, entitled, Yes She Can, to connect talented Turkish girls with experienced mentors in the United States. Our goal is to encourage and inspire more young Turkish women to pursue leadership positions in government, civil society and business. We’re kicking this project off later this spring and will provide more information then.

In the meantime, we’ve been leading up to Yes She Can with a month-long campaign on empowering Turkish girls. We’re in the final stretches of this campaign that has included a Twitter discussion and a contest that closes this Wednesday, February 29. Three Turkish non-profits are competing for a $10,000 grant for a project that supports young Turkish girls. Your participation will make a difference. Please vote.

And a heartfelt appreciation for all of TPF’s corporate partners – thank you for supporting us in our effort to positively impact Turkey through philanthropy:

American Express
Goldman Sachs
JP Morgan Chase & Co
Hilton Hotels
Autobrennt LLC
Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall
Electronic Arts
Great-West Retirement Services
Herrick, Feinstein LLP
International Innovative Asset Resources, Inc.
MathWorks. Inc.
NB Ventures
NEX Worldwide Express
Project Mailbox
BK Restaurant Partners
Roshan Trading
Sharabi Inc.
SMC Management Corporation
The Marmara-Manhattan
Thomson Reuters Company

Thank you,

TPF Team

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine from Van

By Servet Haruno─člu
Hisar Anadolu Destek Derne─či

I was in Van for 3 days last week and returned back on Saturday. The situation in Van is worse than I expected. I did not realize that the problem was so large. Most of the buildings in the city are damaged and they are waiting for demolition. The people have either left Van or they are living in tents. The temperature was -6 degrees last week. The government has put up container villages, but the people prefer to live in make shift tents near their homes.

Make shift tents

The people had been through a trauma which will last sometime for them to get over. I think the good weather in the spring will raise their morale and they will start returning to their normal lives.

Enver Bey has setup office in one of the containers that we have sent and he is organizing the relief efforts. He has formed groups of four girls in each ghetto that we work. These girls locate the families that needs support, make a list of what they need and report to Enver Bey. Next day the help is sent to the families. The number of families that are receiving help from us has reached 350. All the people that I have met asked me to relay their thanks to all the good people that are helping them.

Helping a family of 7 whose tent was burned the day before.

We have started work in two of our workshops. The other three are damaged and the girls are reluctant to go in them. The girls in operating workshops are very happy to attend a workshop where they socialize in a warm environment, have decent lunch and make some money. We are trying to set up two prefabricated workshops instead of the ones that are damaged. We hope to have them up and running in March. The Governor of Van has congratulated us for organizing the operation of two workshops, and indicated that such success stories are necessary for uplifting of morale in the city.

In the Haci Bekir atelier

It is cold in Van.

We feel that we have and are helping these people and we could not have done this without the help of our friends.

On behalf of all the families and the girls in Van that we work with we wish to thank Turkish Philanthropy Funds for all they have done and hope that their support continues.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fighting for Gender Equality: TPF’s Twitter Chat

By Elmira Bayrasli

Engaging men, focusing on childcare options and educating women were some of the suggestions made during our Twitter chat on empowering Turkish girls and closing Turkey’s gender gap. The chat kicked off Turkish Philanthropy Funds’s month-long campaign on empowering teen girls.

Istanbul-based journalist Claire Berlinski participated and, subsequently, had questions about the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report, released last week, that ranks Turkey 122 out of 183 countries on its Gender Gap index. While that is a startling number, Berlinski noted that she’d

“like to see the data broken down a lot more. Turkey is a big country. What’s happening in Istanbul may have nothing to do with what’s happening in Diyarbakir; within Istanbul alone, Nisantasi (an upscale, wealthy neighborhood) and Sultanbeyli (a poor neighborhood) may as well be different planets.”

Rural Anatolia was a point that Turkish journalist Ahu Ozyurt brought up. She noted: “Girls have to take care of their siblings and help their mothers in rural Turkey. Families rarely afford to send all to school”.

She added that there is also the intense focus about “protecting the morality of the girl,” highlighting the cultural challenges that prevent Turkish girls from fulfilling their talent and potential.

That was something I highlighted in this Turkish Daily News column. My grandmother was illiterate because her parents didn’t see the utility of a girl knowing how to read or write – beyond “writing boys love letters.”

Many agreed that overcoming cultural stereotypes would require increased education. While there is near-universal enrolment of girls in primary school, the numbers start to slide in secondary school and drop further when it comes to higher education. Creating incentives and conditions for girls to stay in school is key.

Another suggestion made by Derya Kaya was to support more female entrepreneur and encourage more Turkish women to engage in start-ups and small business. As a fierce entrepreneurship junkie, I agree.

I also agreed with the points about engaging men into finding a solution to closing the Turkish gender gap. The empowerment of women cannot happen on its own. Men have an equal and important role to play to lift women up in Turkey. Many I know are eager to get engaged. We must hold them up as role models and include them in our fight for gender equality.

It is a fight that we’ll continue here at Turkish Philanthropy Funds for the next several weeks. Follow us on Facebook where we have a contest that will grant $10,000 to a Turkish organization supporting a girls’ empowerment project.