Honorable President of the Women and Democracy Association,
Dear members of KADEM,
Most valuable participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I salute you with love and respect, and hope that the INTERNATIONAL WOMEIN AND JUSTICE SUMMIT brings positive things for our country, nation and more particularly for all women.
I express my gratitude to KADEM; Dear President, members of the board and all members; in consideration of both the work you have been doing since the establishment of this society and the importance of this summit I would like to sincerely congratulate you.
I would also like to welcome all the guests who are participating in this important summit from Turkey and abroad; I would like to thank them in advance for the contributions that they will make during this two-day summit.
While I begin my speech I would also like to congratulate all the teachers on the Teachers’ Day, November 24.
On occasion of this day I would like to express the infinite gratitude that myself and this glorious nation feel towards all teachers throughout Turkey.
The Women and Democracy Association, as stated shortly before, was established on March 8, 2013. With a history of only 1.5 years, KADEM has succeeded in numerous unique activities which have made an impact, stimulated and stirred interest.
KADEM has established that it is different to other NGOs working in this field with its attitude, discourse and alternative ideas.
Turkey truly needs such an association, one that brings different initiatives to the solution of women’s problems.
Although still quite a new association, KADEM has attained a level at which it can fulfil this need.
I believe that the International Women and Justice Summit is an extremely important event which, in essence, reflects the different perspective that KADEM introduces.
I would like to express here that I personally attach great importance to women’s problems being approached with justice, both on a national and international level.
It is sad that today we observe every problem that faces human beings and humanity is being addressed in the modern world without a holistic or just approach.
We live in an age in which the mind and the conscience are separated into compartments, with different partitions; the segments of society which concentrate on their own specific fields of interest have become apathetic to other worlds and other problems.
There are dozens of examples…
It is possible to see that segments of society which demonstrate an extreme awareness to the environment are at the same time apathetic to armament throughout the world.
It is possible to witness that those who are sensitive to environmental problems in other countries remain insensitive to the damage that their own country is causing to the global environment.
It is possible to observe those who make a great fuss over the smallest violation of democracy or human rights in certain countries turning a blind eye to the violation of democracy and human massacres in other countries.
It is possible to observe that those who transform the matter of hunting seals into a global issue fail to react or be aware of the slaughter of thousands of children and women in Palestine, Gaza or Syria.
There are dozens, even hundreds of examples similar to these.
All these double standards and hypocritical approaches demonstrate that what is missing in most of the solutions to the problems we face is justice.
Yes… It is not possible to talk about justice if, when finding solutions to problems, a holistic approach is not adopted or if there is discrimination among problems.
It is not possible to solve a problem with justice if justice has failed to come into play during the solution.
It is not possible to be sincere, just or convincing if while defending democratic rights in one’s own country one ignores the violation of democracy in other countries.
It is not possible to be honest or just if while defending the right for freedom and independence for oneself and one’s own people one ignores the violation of the oppressed and mistreated people’s right to freedom and independence in other countries.
It is not possible to be sincere, honest or just if one is not as concerned with the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian and Syrian children and women as one is concerned with defending the environment.
It is not possible to talk about rights, laws or justice if one remains silent while women in Sarajevo are dying, if one remains unmoved while humanity is dying in Egypt, Libya or Iraq.
Let me express a point clearly here:
What is essential today for solving almost all global problems is justice.
The solution to racism is justice.
The only way to eliminate discrimination between white and black is justice.
The solution to both Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is justice.
The true solution to environmental pollution, to democratic violations and to human rights violations is justice.
The only value that we need to reduce poverty and unemployment, to end wars and conflicts is justice.
Likewise, on a global scale, the only way to find a solution to the problems that women face is, undoubtedly, justice.
Justice is one thing, while law and equality is something else.
Of course there will be equality; of course rights will be protected by law…
However, even if there is equality, even if there is law, if there is no justice there can be no real solutions to problems, and rights cannot be delivered to those who truly own them.
Laws are created by authorities, but justice comes from a feeling of truth and is created by our consciences.
We must examine every matter that we face, from the very beginning, from a perspective of justice.
We must weigh every matter that we face on the scales of justice and conscience.
We must support the concept of equality and law over justice and conscience.
Countries and people who can ensure that justice and conscience are dominant in the law are those which can find the most fundamental and satisfactory solutions to the problems we face.
There is a principle which summarizes our ancient state tradition in a very meaningful way…
Sheikh Edebali, the mentor of Osman Gazi, the founder of the Ottoman State, admonished Osman and said: “Help men to live, in order for the state to live.”
This basic principle is part of our civilization, of our understanding of state and nations.
It is only possible to help people live with justice.
In countries where the state makes laws and imposes these laws on the people it is not law that will rise, but oppression.
However, if the state maintains the rights of its people, in other words, if it establishes its laws on rights, then justice will appear.
The concept that we must initially take into consideration in all matters is justice.
Different ethnicities are facing problems? Then we will proceed justly.
Different sects are facing problems? Then we will act justly.
There is discrimination between different regions and cities? Then we will approach this problem with justice.
Similarly, we must examine the differences between women and men and any discrimination that occurs through the consideration of justice.
Looking at the human being with a consideration of justice will enable us to perceive a human being simply and only as a human life.
If we can see the human being as only human life, if we can see the human being as the most honorable of creation, if we can place this feeling of justice into our hearts and consciences, believe me, we can eliminate all discrimination.
Then, there will only be human life, not discrimination between black and white.
Then, there will only be human life, not discrimination between Alawi-Sunni, Muslim-Christian.
Then, there will only be human life, not discrimination between Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Yazidi, Rum, Armenian or Assyrian; there will be no discrimination between Eastern and Western.
Likewise, when we are able to look at people with justice, it will be possible to eliminate discrimination between men and women in a more just, humane and conscientious manner.
Dear friends, most honoured guests…
Equality is the forced elevation of the victim to the level of the culprit, or vice versa.
What women need is not equality, but rather equity, in other words, justice.
You cannot place women and men into equal positions. Their creation, nature and very constitution are different.
For example, you cannot apply the same working conditions for men and for pregnant women.
You cannot have a mother, a mother who needs to breastfeed her child, for example, in an equal position, in all aspects, with a man who does not have such responsibilities.
It is not just to employ women in every profession in which men labor; this is what the communist regimes did in the past.
Give a woman a pickaxe and shovel, and make her labor; this is not justice. It is against the more delicate nature of the woman.
Did they not do this in Anatolia in the past?
They put large wicker baskets on the backs of our poor beloved mothers. What these women went through… They became hunchbacked, in the fields, writhing in pain…
Now should things continue like this? All this while men played cards and dice in coffeehouses. These things have happened.
Therefore, we must adopt the concept of equity rather than equality, in other words, justice, as our most important criterion, the most important point of reference.
Our religion, Islam, puts women in a special position. What is this special position? Motherhood. Motherhood is unique to women. It is something that cannot be attained by men. It is the highest level.
Some people can understand this, while others are unable to. For example some feminists are unable to wholly understand the concept of motherhood.
Dear friends, most valuable fellows…
Today women are being murdered are they not? Now it is time to think carefully and realistically.
Can a believing person -not just a person of faith, but someone who understands the values of the faith- can such a person murder a woman? Can he abuse a woman? Is this possible? No, it is not.
I am talking as a Muslim. Our religion is Islam. The word İslam comes from the root silm. What is the meaning of silm? It is “peace”. We are the followers of a religion of peace. In our religion, it is not possible to be cruel to a woman; it is not possible to treat a woman harshly. Even for sons and daughters there is clear instruction on how to treat one’s parents. When parents grow old, one cannot sigh in exasperation about them. One has to be patient with them. Our values are this sensitive.
In recent years Turkey has begun to reflect different points of view in both regional and global problems; it has defended these points of view in a brave and determined manner.
We, as a country, have a serious advantage when perceiving regional and global problems.
We are a country which comes from the East, but is facing the West.
We are a country that was able to bring together the science and civilization of the East, to build new civilizations and have this new wealth and the West embrace one another.
In recent years Turkey has started to regain its self-confidence; this self-confidence has allowed for it to find original solutions to problems, thanks be to Allah.
On the one hand, we have a strong economy which is getting stronger every day.
On the other hand, we have a democracy that has standards which are improving every day.
We have a political structure that empowers peace, stability, security and most importantly, the culture of living together; this too is improving every day.
In addition to all of these, we are now a country that is able to propose different, sincere and just solutions to regional and global problems.
Domestically or abroad there are those that ridicule such claims, theses and ground-breaking enterprises.
We will not pay them any mind.
We will continue to fight against stereotypes and prejudices.
Frankly, new Turkish initiatives and approaches are crucial in the women’s struggle for rights.
Today, in many developed countries, we can see that the women’s struggle for rights has been imprisoned within specific patterns, specific terms and discourses.
First, we observe that the women’s struggle for rights is immured in the concept of equality; but the aspect of justice is absent.
Turkey, with its different point of view, by adding concepts and feelings like justice, conscience and sincerity, can bring a different discourse and action onto the agenda.
Rather than employing imported concepts or actions, Turkey can make its own authentic way in this struggle.
While addressing the problems that women face in Turkey, nongovernmental organizations such as KADEM can create the framework of a global women’s movement.
Frankly, it is clear that KADEM does this successfully and I am hopeful for the future.
By sincerely vocalizing the inhumane treatment to which Palestinian women are subjected a global difference can be created.
By bravely vocalizing the inhumane treatment to which Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi women are subjected a new global attitude is adopted.
I believe that even addressing women’s problems along with the concept of justice is a different attitude.
I have a polite request for all members of KADEM…
Do not allow yourselves to be shaken from this attitude.
Do not allow yourselves to be driven back from this attitude.
Do not allow criticism or ridicule to destroy the righteous and justice-seeking attitude of KADEM.
Never forget that you have something to say to the world on this subject; you have something to say on behalf of the countries of the region.
Believe me, only you have the language and knowledge which can speak to both a woman in the West and a woman in the East.
Believe me, you are the only ones who can give voice to the rights of both the woman being exploited in the media and the woman who is oppressed in Palestine or Syria.
You, I emphasize, are the hope, the light of hope, the light of justice not only for Turkish women, but for all oppressed and mistreated women in the region.
Without a doubt, every undertaking of KADEM or nongovernmental organizations like KADEM will always attract the interest of politics and the administration.
While I was preparing for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality elections, I encouraged women to enter into politics; I did this more than any other political party.
During the 13 years of my leadership of the party and my 12 years as prime minister, I fought to have women enter politics and make their presence felt in both the political field and the economic field.
I believe that the political struggle which we have taken on with our sisters has carried Turkey to a very different place than it found itself in 1994.
We changed the constitution; we made very important, historical changes in laws and legislation.
We have encouraged women to become members of Parliament, mayors, provincial and city council members.
We made historical reforms in the work life of women; we took historical steps against violence and discrimination.
Certainly, there is no claim that we have reached an ideal place.
However, I wholeheartedly believe that we are at a place of great hope.
I am sure that Turkish women, demonstrating their bravery with an increasing self-confidence, will continue to carry forward the struggle for rights and justice.
I wholeheartedly believe that Turkish women will be the hope for all their sisters and friends throughout the globe and not just in Turkey.
Until now we have stood side by side with women in their struggle for rights; God willing, we will continue to encourage them in this struggle.
While ending my speech with these thoughts, I thank KADEM once again for organizing such a meaningful international summit.
I would like to express my gratitude once again to all guests who participated and contributed to this summit.
I hope that this summit will be stimulating for all the women in Turkey and throughout the world; I salute you all with love and respect.