Women’s Organization at Kocaeli University: “Our booth is beautiful, why don’t you come?”

Source: Gökçe Şengönül, “Bizim çardak çok güzel, gelsene (Our booth is beautiful, why don’t you come?),” Evrensel, 03 May 2014, http://www.evrensel.net/haber/83565/bizim-cardak-cok-guzel-gelsene.html#.U2uPh2fQfIV

We have very good news for you. We turned our two-year-old group Kocaeli University Bread and Roses into a workshop.  In other words, we formed the Kocaeli University Bread and Roses Women Studies Workshop! This process began two years ago with conversations on women’s problems among a group of university women. We discovered each other and started small meetings. We got to know each other. With breakfasts, conversations, and March 8 Women’s Day gatherings, we strengthened our bonds of sisterhood in the course of our activities about problems stemming from being a woman, our common denominator. But we realized we wanted to move things forward, towards doing something more concrete, and took a step together. This was a big step, because this was a step that gave each of us a responsibility. Our sensitivity enabled us to more clearly see a problem that we know has existed for centuries and required us not to be silent in the face of it.  But this increased our desire to not only break our silence after each incident, but to also to produce something concrete to prevent the incident from happening. Our desire to produce something concrete was the basis for our workshop.


The fact that there was no women’s studies workshop at our university! In other words, there were no groups or work platforms where we could talk about our problems that have to do with “simply being a woman,” where we could produce solutions, articulate our demands. We know that we need to talk to more women if we want our voice to be stronger. Because we have shared problems. We do not have to endure violence or die in order to see the existence of such problems. It is impossible not to see patriarchy present at home, on the street, on campus, on the bus, in the workplace. Once you see this, to deny the existence of women’s problems, to be indifferent to them so long as they do not affect you directly, only reinforces the patriarchal system. It is because of this that we wanted to reach our  female university friends. We wanted a workshop where we could call on all of the women at the university regardless of their political views or identities.

Note: If you read this and would like to reach us, you can find us at the booth which we decorated with our own hands on the way to the Communications Dining Hall every Tuesday at 4:00 PM.


We wanted to take up the call to university women at the conference “Young Women are Meeting” held recently with the participation of women friends from ODTU (Middle East Technical University) and Hacettepe University. The fact that after we took this step one of our female friends was attacked at the Faculty of Engineering at our university by her ex boyfriend with a gun and a meat cleaver was a sign that we were in fact late in taking such a step.  In his statement afterwards, the University president said “the young man has it tough” almost offering consolation to the attacker. But just as we were actively keeping watch of the court case for the 14 year old Ö.Y., who was sexually abused, we will do the same for this case.  There are a lot of things we want to do, good things: to gain official recognition at the university, to work to set up a committee to monitor assaults and violence, to collaborate with our LGBTI friends, to organize talks, forums with the support of academic scholars, to start a fanzine at our school. Because we know and believe that the world becomes a more beautiful place with the labor of women.


Women from the workshop have a message for you:

Neslihan Kalay: Challenging the system that defines honor through women as well as those who want to imprison women within the walls of the home, we are women gathered here to be the voice of our sisters who are oppressed, exploited, subject to male violence, slaughtered on the streets under the name of love murders, and to call together for women’s solidarity.

Esin Özge Çiçek: Is woman’s honor between her legs? We are here to destroy this notion. Because a woman is not a sexual object. Is it the blood that oozes from between the legs that makes one honorable or is it the soul that makes the body honorable? Therefore we will not be anybody’s honor.

Eda Akbulut: We want to see LGBT individuals among us as well. Especially trans women. We all know how much they are excluded from this society and how difficult their lives are. We must therefore explore the theme “one is not born a woman, but becomes a woman” in our workshop.

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