How did we get started?
Although the Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender) was officially established in 2015, the point that we as Sabancı University faculty members, students and administrative staff started working on gender, building awareness, educating ourselves, taking strength in one another dates back to 2006. The 2006-2007 academic year was a milestone year in which gender studies started to take root at Sabancı University. In 2006, a group of volunteers comprising students, faculty and administrative staff came together, and after months of research and discussion about how to prevent sexual harassment at the university and about the practices at other universities around the world, we came together and wrote the Sabancı University Sexual Harassment Policy Statement. This directive, implemented in 2007, also constituted a historic step in regards to universities in Turkey. Another exciting project whose seeds were planted in 2006-2007 was the Purple Certificate Program, which is carried out by high school teachers from various provinces around Turkey under the framework of the UN Joint Program for the Development of Women and Children’s Human Rights. Both projects were implemented with the support of our founding rector, Tosun Terzioğlu, and with the enthusiastic participation of volunteers from various faculties and units of the university. These seeds, which were planted 10 years ago, have grown into a tree whose branches are growing and diversifying with each passing day. After coming together through the Purple Certificate Program and sexual harassment prevention committee work in 2006, we then founded the Gender Forum in 2010.. In 2015, we were recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Sabanci University Board of Trustees, and in 2016, we were granted the status of Application and Research Center (UYGAR) by the Higher Education Council of Turkey (YÖK). We now continue our work as SU Gender.
What do we do?
The Purple Certificate Program, which we lead initially with the support of UNDP and continued since 2007 with the support of the Sabanci Foundation, has reached over 3000 high school teachers from 17 different cities, and has made it possible for many high school and middle school teachers, as well as education faculty students, to receive intensive and holistic gender training. Through the incorporation of new projects and initiatives, the program continues to grow, expand and open new horizons for us all.
Since 2014 we have been leading Curious Steps: Gender and Memory Walks, which make possible a view of our city and its neighborhood from a gender and memory perspective, and which allow the exploration of many “hidden” stories. With LGBTI and women’s stories transmitted from the perspectives and voices of young volunteers, we are building new bridges between the past, present, and future. Since 2010, we have been organizing the annual Dicle Koğacıoğlu Article Award in partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, opening new doors and bringing together young researchers working on gender. Each year, international conferences organized on topics such as gender in academia, female photographers, peace studies, literature, and other related topics gather together academics, researchers and activists from various geographies and disciplines. These conferences contribute to sharing experiences and new cooperations, and to strengthening ourselves through developing partnerships. Panels, talks, forums, and adult education activities organized in Tuzla and Karaköy create dynamic discussion and sharing spaces for academics and students, just as they also allow for the meeting of academics from outside the university and for wider audiences to be brought together.
What principles do we embrace?
-To struggle against all forms of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, ethnic background, class, or faith;
-To create discussion and sharing environments that support pluralism, creativity, equality and solidarity;
-To base our understanding on a collective, transparent, participative, multi-vocal and open communication-based work and decision-making process;
-To make academic knowledge open to everyone; and to strengthen the flow of information and effectiveness between academia, civil society, politics and everyday life.
What’s good for us when we’re all together?
-to work in a sincere, safe, and creative environment;
-to give priority to sharing experiences;
-to be based on feminist policies and solidarity together in action;
-to know and own the value of our own work and serve as a trailblazer for similar types of work;
-to appreciate our colleagues and to nourish teamwork;
-to have fun together and to show resistance to hardships together instead of hiding them;
-to go beyond the ordinary, to make a difference, and to see that we can reach people.
Where do we see the difference of SU Gender?
-To carry out projects in various fields without being restricted to academic studies;
-To value other studies on gender equality and to open space for them, to amplify our voices along with the voices of others;
-To produce works like the Purple Certificate Program, Curious Steps, and the Dicle Koğacıoğlu Article Award that make an impact in the field and lead the way for similar projects;
-To develop platforms that bring together academics, employees and students within the university;
-To reach people outside the university from different walks of life and points of view;
-To contribute to the accessibility of academic knowledge through the international meetings we organize;
-To create discussion spaces to speak about difficult or risky topics;
-To produce meeting and project formats that break the mold,
-To cultivate, encourage each other’s areas of interest, and to introduce fruitful production processes.
For SU Gender to continue to open new windows and make valuable sharing possible, there are many people in the background watering this tree every day with their hard work. From the first day we came together until now, many faculty members and students from within the university and beyond have shared their knowledge and experiences as a part of our various programs. Thanks to the Sabanci University Board of Trustees Chair and members, the rector, and deans’ belief in us, the active support of all the university's administrative units, the participation from everyone giving life to SU Gender with their exciting and creative energy, and all the listeners, speakers, discussants, educators, students, storytellers, budget managers, photographers, assistants, volunteers and advisory board members, we continue to move forward together due to the participation of every single person who has taken part in our projects.
As SU Gender, if we are able to resolutely increase "feminist curiosity," awareness, and solidarity, strengthen our roots, and turn our faces to the future with hope and excitement, we owe it to each participant who has walked together with us and supported us so much.
Who are we?
Gender Forum / SU Gender Director: Sibel Irzık (2010-2016), Ayşe Gül Altınay (2016-)
Gender Forum / SU Gender Coordinator: Ayşe Yüksel (2011-2016), Begüm Acar (2016-)
Purple Certificate Program
Coordinator: Ayşe Yüksel (2008-2011), Olcay Özer (2012- 2015), Ayşegül Taşıtman (2016-)
Assistant: Olcay Özer (2009-2011); Armanc Yıldız (2014-2015), Betül Sarı (2016-
Coordinator: Dilara Çalışkan (2014-2016), Sema Semih (2016-)
Executive Board Members (2016-)
Ayşe Betül Çelik, Ayşe Gül Altınay, Ayten Sönmez, Cenk Özbay, Deniz Tarba Ceylan, Hülya Adak, İlker Birbil, Reyhan Tutumlu, Ruken Alp, Sibel Irzık
Gender Forum / SU Gender Volunteers (2007-2017):
Alev Topuzoğlu, Annedith Schneider, Ayşe Kadıoğlu, Ayşe Öncü, Gülayşe Koçak, Huriye Arıkan, Işık Özel, Nakiye Boyacıgiller, Selen Erdoğan, Serap Özer, Tara Hopkins, Tülay Artan
Advisory Board Members (2016-)
Andrea Petö, Betül Kacar, Bilge Demirköz, Cynthia Cockburn, Cynthia Enloe, Deniz Kandiyoti, Fatmagül Berktay, İpek Gürkaynak, Karin Karakaşlı, Kenan Çayır, Meral Akkent, Mert Fırat, Nadje Al-Ali, Nazlı Ümit Boyner, Nebahat Akkoç, Nihat Berker, Richa Nagar, Sanem Oktar, Serpil Sancar, Yeşim Arat, Zerrin Koyunsağa
The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul, Columbia University Center For the Study of Social Difference, Depo Istanbul, Education Reform Initiative, the Ministry of the Interior, Istanbul Bilgi University Center for Sociology and Education Studies (SEÇBİR) and Istanbul Bilgi University Child Studies Unit (ÇOÇA), Women’s Museum Istanbul, KAMER Foundation, Koç University Center for Gender Studies (KOÇ-KAM), the Ministry of National Education, New York University Hemispheric Institute, Youth Re-autonomy Foundation of Turkey, Turkey Educational Volunteers Foundation (TEGV), Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER)