There will be a session this year in Feminism in London Conference named Fighting Against Patriarchy in Turkey– with the Istanbul Feminist Kolectiv. We, as feminists from Istanbul, are attending the Conference this year on October, 25. Why are we coming to London and what kind of an organization do we have in Istanbul?
Istanbul Feminist Collective is a platform where feminists cultivate their ideas, organise campaigns, demonstrations, and other forms of feminist theory and practice. It is a network of solidarity among women. The collective aims to develop a feminist theory and practice against the system of patriarchy. Before telling about Istanbul Feminist Collective in more detail, we would like to tell briefly about the history of feminist movement in Turkey.
The history of feminist movement in Turkey is grounded in the beginning of 1980’s. The feminist struggle has mostly focused on finding the ways of eliminating male violence. While doing this, the main issue was to struggle against patriarchy, giving significance to strengthening ourselves at first hand and all women through solidarity. Being independent from the man, the state and the capital was the main road to take when the movement started to expand.
Until 2000’s there have been many women’s organizations, either feminist or not. Some of them disappeared, some of them survived in spite of absence of resources, some of them have become dependent on project-based work, and some of them insisted on being independent from any kind of resources that might have something to do with power relations. Istanbul Feminist Collective adopted the way to be independent from any kind of resources, considering it as a pre-condition for making independent policy and tried to create its own resources.
When some feminist women gathered and acted together to make politics, they saw the need to create a platform that could include as many feminists as possible and would create an opportunity to act together. They started a campaign named “We Are Revolting Against Femicides” in 2010 and this campaign turned into a platform/ground later on which they called Istanbul Feminist Collective.
Central to our other campaigns are issues of abortion rights, male violence against women and issues about women’s labour – both in the workplace and at home. We aim to develop a “whole-istic” feminist approach; recognising the intersections of patriarchy with other forms of oppression and challenging capitalism, racism and militarism. We struggle against sexism, heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia, which we see as patriarchal forces. Our campaigns have targeted, amongst other things, the patriarchal family, gender stereotypes in advertising, domestic labour and the legal system.
The collective were deeply involved in last summer’s Gezi Park resistances, running a feminist camp and setting up women’s forums throughout the city. During our workshop, we hope to share our experiences of struggling against patriarchy in Turkey.
We give significance to including as many feminists as possible in decision making mechanisms while acting together. We organize 8th of March night marches that continue for 12 years in Istanbul using this method. We also give importance to international solidarity just like the call for action we made last year to international women’s organizations upon the fact that our traditional 8th of March walk faced the threat of being hindered due to the police blockade in Taksim after Gezi protests. We think that international women’s solidarity is very crucial in order to create a “whole-istic” feminist approach against patriarchy.
Why are we coming to London? To tell the truth, it is not only for telling about ourselves. With this workshop, we hope to learn from women’s experiences living in London, as well. For example, how do you get organised in order to struggle against patriarchy in the United Kingdom? What is your strategy to push the state to take an effective action against male violence against women? How do you engage with other opposition movements; for example, the occupy movement, working class unions, and the anti-cuts movements? What are your experiences of being feminist within these male-dominated movements? We hope to share our experience and learn from all women’s experiences there.