Sema Ramazanoglu, Minister of Family and Social Politics, met with female journalists last Friday. I can say that the meeting was very productive. As, we try to catch the agenda despite its loud nature, we fail to notice many other things.
As the newly assigned (3 months) Family and Social Politics Minister, Sema Ramazanoglu answers all questions calmly, I realize that she has started her job rapidly and enthusiastically. And to talk about what has been done till now, and what is to be done two topics were important:
Integration: The right to work, women-only language courses, and job training.
Firstly, the Minister's statements on Syrian refugees. Ramazanoglu is one of the first to use the term “integration” when referring to the Syrian refugees, as it is evident that they will not be returning home. Although solutions are put forward when in need, the Ministry has started to register the Syrians together with the Migration Department (part of the Family Ministry) and AFAD, as most of the 2.2 million refugees were living outside the refugee camps and were under the threat of becoming ghettoized. Therefore, the second most important and magical word for the minister after “integration” is “sustainability.”
Accordingly, the Ministry is preparing to start language courses for women and give them job training. Turkey will pay the same wages to Syrians who have work permits as Turkish citizens. Whatever a Turk gets paid for a certain job, so will a Syrian. These people have been here for a long time, and will continue to be. Last year 150,000 babies were born in Turkey of Syrian mothers. They are now Turkey's babies. Fifty-three thousand Syrian babies do not have parents. Another aim the Ministry has is to ensure that these children are not exploited. According to the Minister's statement, everything needed for this is being done. The Ministry's budget is growing as activities like this are added to the plan. The ministry had the sixth highest budget, 24.6 quadrillion, this year. This rate has increased by 35 percent this year compared to last year.
Rehabilitation: The Ministry not only assists Syrians forced to leave their country because of civil war, but people forced to leave their homes because of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism in the Southeast. Visiting the Southeast last week, Ramazanoglu says that social services experts and psychologists have been in the region for a while. Six hundred houses have been visited in Diyarbakir, 6,200 people have been personally seen and families under economic, health, social and educational risk have been identified in order to be assisted. The Ministry is also interested in the education of young girls. And when we get to the domestic violence issue, Minister Ramazanoglu says that the Family Support Centres will provide social counselling for families. This will be done specially for violence to be prevented. Another initiative is flexible working hours for women. Herself a medical doctor, the minister says, “If this had been implemented earlier, I would have four children instead of two.” This practice is intended to ease the burden of working mothers.
“Our conscience comes before the legislation”
In order to raise awareness of domestic violence, the Ministry has been working together with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the General Staff, the Ministry of Justice, and the Internal Affairs Ministry. Privates, officers, judges and police officers have been educated and trained. If all the projects discussed at the meeting are actualized, I have hope that things will change in Turkey. Let's wait and see....