Institutionalization of Local Gender Equality Policy – The Case of Trabzon
Ayten Alkan & Sinem Mısırlıoğlu (2010) , 1st International Congress on Urban and Environmental Issues and Policies Vol.II, Trabzon: KTÜ, pp. 472-86.
The facts that women have been either absent from or marginalized within multifarious layers of Turkey’s local politics (i.e. representation, participation, services, institutional structures and processes…), and that male-dominated structures of local politics –inevitably together with gender-blindness- have had a reproducing impact on gender asymmetry via social space of localities, are obstacles for not only a more democratic society and realizing the principle values of local self-government, but also women’s empowerment and full citizenship. Asymmetric gender relations are re(established) spatially and locally as well as at macro levels. Thus, it is indisputable that local politics and governments possess a strong potential for diminishing this inequality.
Institutional mechanisms are essential instruments for realizing this potential. Not only these mechanisms are diverse and multiple, but also socio-economic, cultural and political realities differ from country to country, even from province to province. Accordingly, institutional mechanisms must fit into the national / local context to be effective and sustainable. In this connection, a model in Turkey for empowering women to become fully engaged in the policy and decision-making processes at local level has been recently articulated. “Women-Friendly Cities” project of The United Nations Joint Program to Protect and Promote the Human Rights of Women and Girls (UNJP), as an embodiment of cooperation of the UN, the government, civil society and the public took start by the end of 2005.
Following a detailed and comprehensive study, six pilot cities, one of which is Trabzon, were selected. This presentation aims to give an account of the four years of the program, and to highlight how services could be diversified and developed, how resources could be multiplied, and lives of women and girls could be improved by adopting a participatory approach that figures on coordination and inter-sectoral cooperation, via particularly focusing on the case of Trabzon.
Key Words: (1) Local Gender Equality Action Planning (2) Women-friendly cities (3) Local politics / governments in Turkey (4) Institutionalization of local gender equality policy
Introduction: Localizing the Comprehension of Gender (In)Equality
The topics discussed in the context of gender inequality and policies targeting the elimination of this inequality are generally formulated around injustice under the law, women’s low parliamentarian representation, weak participation to governmental and decision-making processes, to education, labour force and social life. In other words, the “lofty strains” of economy, politics, institutions and the culture determines both how we analyze gender inequality, and where we seek the “solutions” vis á vis this inequality.
In Turkey too, the sphere identified or named as “women’s problems”, is categorized and defined distinctly, especially since 1990s. This categorization is generally denoted as “education, health, employment, violence and politics”; the data related to these categories are offered, problem definitions are clarified and alternative solutions are brought by around these data. The scale adopted, almost always is “the country-wide”: Gender inequality is defined as a “national problem”, and as a broad political perspective. Such a categorization is very important to see the wider picture of gender-based inequalities at the eminent spheres of the social structure. This “wider picture” makes possible to see the male-domination at meta social structures and processes. However, on the other hand, this perspective mostly ignores the specifities, differentiations, and variabilities. It also makes an illusion as if the sphere is understood, comprehended and consumed.
Yet, in order to comprehend even a simplest fact, distinguishing “the place” of that fact is a necessity: Where it is materialized, what the specific circumscribing conditions are, and how the concrete socio-spatial context shapes. Actually, the term “gender” itself implies such a necessity: Differently from the conventional, static, naturalizing “sex” definitions, “gender” refers to alterability. The argument that both the definitions of social sexes and the relations between them, norms, practices and customs regulating those relations change across time and geography, is embedded in the term itself. Focusing the differentiations does not connote disclaiming the “universality” of male-dominance or patriarchy. On the contrary, such a perspective helps to discern the ways by which this prevalent and influential system functions at different scales and places, to descend to details, and thus, to get better pictures of the factual. In addition, looking into “places” can offer possibilities of cooperation and solidarity via “grabbing” the potential at different localities.
Once we focus on “the local”, it becomes clear that, women’s and men’s access to socio-economical and spatial opportunities which are offered by the living environment are different; and thus needs, problems and expectations of both groups are not the same. Due to this inequality and differentiation, policies or lack of policies concerning the “shared living environment” effect women and men in different ways. For instance, in case of quality and cost inappropriateness of lots of local services, the lack which occurs is compensated informally by women to a great degree, or the burden of women’s traditional activities increases (child care, cleaning, daily shopping, elderly care and caring of the ill, etc.). On the other hand, the problem is not only a problem of unpaid female labour that is burdened by a lack of appropriate services; at the same time it is a consequence of the gender-blindness of public service policies/activities. Many services, arrangements, policies that seem to be gender-neutral, in fact, produce results that are not pro-women. For these reasons, women’s active participation to local decision making processes, creating appropriate channels for reflecting women’s needs and problems to these processes, integrating a perspective that is sensitive to gender inequalities and differences to policy formation processes have got a vital importance and these are also pre-conditions of creating sustainable, fair and more human habitats and urban environments.
However, Turkey’s local decision making bodies, and local governmental councils in particular, have been defective in representing different gender needs and interests. It is universally acknowledged that representation, together with the elements of local-communal services and participation, has got an indispensable and particular value as one of the three essential defining elements of local self-government; forasmuch as it implies some kind of competence delegation of citizens concerning the decisions for their living environment. However, at local level –as well as the national- only people who possess the required political resources and opportunities -finance, time, strong networks of public relations, education, experience, etc.- have got the priority to be candidates and to be elected. Thus, besides other disadvantaged groups, women are under-represented. This means that not only women are systematically represented by men, but also the reflection of their needs and problems to local decision making mechanisms is incompetent.
Women’s Representation at Local Governments’ Elected Bodies
– 2004 and 2009 Local Elections –
|Women N.||Total N.||Percentage (%)|
|Mayors of Municipalities||
|Provincial Council Members||
|Municipal Council Members||
|Mayors of Municipalities||
|Provincial Council Members||
|Municipal Council Members||
Resource: http://www.mahalli-idareler.gov.tr/Belediyeler/belediyeistatistik.htm 08.06.2001; Ministry of Interior, 2009 Election Lists; http://www.mahalli-idareler.gov.tr 01.09.2009
The most important consequence of this representational profile is a unilateral involvement with regards to local public services and policies – i.e. accepting what is given as the way it is given. Therefore, making up for this under-representation by engaging multiple tools is a requisite if the fulfillment of basic rights related to the living environment –i.e. “the right to the city”- is the issue.
United Nations Joint Program (UNJP) to Protect and Promote the Human Rights of Women and Girls, which will be examined in this paper, was conceptually defined in line with the human rights principles handled in a series of UN World Conference final documents, including also the Cairo Plan of Action and the Beijing Platform for Action. An empowerment model that demands women’s participation to all local and national policy and decision-making processes was hence established. UNJP processes and products were guided directly and explicitly by human rights principles, and the Program was aiming to strengthen local administrations and women’s organizations through the creation of “Women Friendly Cities”. We shall note that, in this regard, the UNFPA (UN Population Fund) considered the Program amongst the best six human rights based projects and the book to promote these projects was publicized in 2008 in New York on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the ratification of the Human Rights Declaration.
A Joint Program for “Women Friendly Cities”
UNJP was an initiation of the UN Gender Thematic Group and its implementation started by the end of 2005. UNFPA, as the implementing agency of the Joint Program on behalf of the UN has signed a working protocol with the Ministry of Interior in February 2006 and the official inauguration of the Program took start in March 2006. The same year, Sabancı Foundation and Sabancı University, and KADER Ankara (Association for Supporting and Training Women Candidates) have joined the Program within the framework of a memorandum of understanding that was signed between these institutions and the UNFPA. The duration of the UNJP that was originally designed as a biannual project was extended twice until the end of 2009 following the collective demand by local and national partners and the approval of the Ministry of Interior. Thus, the UNJP shaped as a partnership between the UN, the government, local governments, NGOs, the private sector and the public, and was supported by all of the above.
Although new legislation for Local Administrations that was approved by the Parliament (TBMM) in 2004-5 provided for the participation of the society to local decisions and covered issues pertaining to gender equality, comprehensive gender equality plans and respective institutional structures were yet to be designed. The UNJP emerged against such a background and in order to support the creation of “women-friendly cities”, the program set its objectives as:
(i) to create an environment (plans, programs, policies, legislation) facilitating the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls;
(ii) to build capacity in local governments to design and provide quality services to women and girls;
(iii) to build capacity in all non-governmental organizations and associations operating in this field to advocate gender equality, interact effectively with relevant agencies and organizations, and strengthen positions of women and girls;
(iv) to raise awareness in public for the rights of women and girls.
In addition to local decision makers, the target community of the UNJP was also including governors’ offices, municipalities, local provincial administrations, women’s organizations, NGOs and the locals in 6 provinces. In the preparation phase, following a detailed and comprehensive study to select these pilot provinces, it was decided to implement the project in Izmir, Kars, Nevşehir, Urfa, Trabzon and Van. The indicators of the State Planning Organization, eagerness of the local governments, premises where other UN projects were being carried out, and the financial indicators were the major criteria in the selection of these provinces. Geographical diversity was another factor as well. These cities were selected to show how services could be diversified and developed, how resources could be multiplied, and lives of women and girls could be improved by adopting a participatory approach that focuses on coordination and inter-sectoral cooperation.
The UNJP was the first project that was implemented at local levels by means of including all related partners. During the 4-year implementation period of the Program a total of 77 meetings –including 35 training sessions and workshops- were held in İstanbul, Ankara and six pilot provinces. More than 300 local partners have either directly or indirectly participated to daily activities of the Program. The number of people that were either directly or indirectly contacted by the 34 sub-projects is estimated to be around 300.000. In addition, 1313 high school teachers were covered by the Purple Certificate Program of Sabancı University.
As the program required both the partnership of diverse parties with varying expectations and the amalgamation of such a variety of perspectives in related activities, the initial act that the UNJP needed has been to focus on capacity building of parties. As a result of this need, trainings and workshops were organized to address local administrators and women’s organizations. Within this framework, KA-DER Ankara organized training and workshop sessions for women’s organizations and the UNJP team and consultants prepared similar sessions for local administrators. The objective of these sessions was to support the development of local perspectives on gender equality and on women’s problems. Through the process, participants were also collectively trained on three series of project cycle management and on gender-sensitive budget preparation. Within the scope of capacity building efforts, local women’s organizations were also equipped with computers and internet connection to facilitate communication between parties. 16 beneficiaries of this support were identified by women’s organizations among themselves. In addition to existing material and material produced, an opinion poll about the status of women at the local level and about women’s perspective on local services were also used during training sessions. One very important result of these capacity building activities has been the formation of Local Equality Action Plan Coordination/Supervision Committees (LEAPCOMs) which were established in each province. These committees ensured a coordinated implementation of efforts and during the implementation phase they were transformed into provincial coordination committees and later into provincial women’s rights coordination committees.
Local Equality Action Plans
Preparation and implementation of Local Equality Action Plans (LEAPs) that especially focus on the realization of gender equality with adequate supervision provided the very foundation of the UNJP. LEAPs were thematic plans to promote equality of women and men. They were designed as tools to cover many areas in which partners such as universities, NGOs and the private sector would need to shoulder responsibilities. In this regard, the very first task in İzmir, Kars, Nevşehir, Urfa, Trabzon and Van, for the preparation of LEAPs has been to determine the parties as active participants to the LEAP preparatory phase. So, basic actors well-equipped to launch these plans were, namely, governors’ offices, municipalities, women’s organizations, other NGOs, universities, professional organizations and the private sector. First, workshops were organized for the preparation of draft LEAPs. Teams composed of representatives of local administrations and women’s organizations, participated to these workshops and the initial versions of LEAPs were outlined by UN consultants to seven main headings to read as:
- Participation in Local Decision Making Mechanisms
- Urban Services
- Violence Against Women
- Economic Empowerment and Working Life
- Education and Health Services
- Migration and Poverty
- Change of Mentality and Awareness Raising
Afterwards, meetings were organized in six provinces to develop the draft LEAPs and adjust them to these localities with the participation of all stakeholders. Working groups, composed of the representatives of local administrations and women’s organizations, were established in order to work on and finalize the seven main headings of LEAPs. Regular weekly meetings were organized with regard to the preparation. Besides, local quantitative and qualitative data concerning inequalities between women and men were collected and compiled, and the transformation potential of the dynamics of gender relations, basic gender problems and possible solutions to these in each city were defined. One of the main achievements of the Program is the unanimous adoption of the LEAPs both in the Local Provincial Councils, and in the Municipal Councils. Other activities concerning the integration of LEAPs into strategic plans at the provincial level were held with the participation of 1040 local partners.
LEAPs are defined as local equality policies due to two reasons: they aim at the empowerment of women and the elimination of obstacles that prevent women’s participation to their city’s cultural, social, economic and political life; and they envisage allocation of local resources and a service model that is at once based on cooperation between public institutions and citizens and on gender equality principle. In this regard, LEAP principles and targets are incorporated in the strategic plans of local provincial administrations and municipalities in three provinces and in one of the Program provinces they are incorporated in the local provincial administration strategic plan. Remaining two provinces that will be reviewing their strategic plans in 2010 or 2011 reiterated their guarantees.
In line with LEAPs’ principles and objectives, through a Grant Program launched by Sabancı Foundation to support the implementation, 18 public (including 5 universities) and 16 civil society projects focusing on various aspects of gender equality ranging from increasing women’s employment to improving women’s participation to politics were supported in 2007-2009. Grant Program Experience Sharing Meetings in 2007 and 2008 in Trabzon and Nevşehir provided project implementing local partners with an empowering platform. Number of direct and indirect beneficiaries of the Grant Program is estimated to be 300.000. On the other hand, the Grant Program also ensured an unwavering local partner attention to the UNJP, because it served to abolish the widely accepted precept, especially by local administrators, that “effective Project outcomes demand vast resources”. It has demonstrated through many examples that small-scale resources could also get bigger through right planning and cooperation and have a transformative effect on social life.
As a result of the training sessions and workshops, elected and appointed local administrators’ level of awareness were raised on issues such as gender equality and problems of women in their locality, a fresh perspective concerning further attention to gender equality during the provision of local services was formulated, and local administrations were motivated to cooperate with local women’s organizations. Besides, local administrators’ attitude towards the establishment of related structures to deal with the problem as required was seen to change during the UNJP implementation process. Hence, the composition of LEAPCOMs that were initially designed as project coordination tools were extended and these commissions were transformed into Provincial Women’s Rights Coordination Committees. Similarly, these administrators who did not at first liked the idea of establishing equality units later took steps to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of such units, including contacts with other related agencies. Furthermore, trainings to ensure the provision of gender-sensitive services by staff of local administration bodies were given. Then authorities have started to demand expertise and support for these trainings from the universities in their area as well as from national mechanisms.
In addition to its awareness raising efforts on gender issues for civil servants and the elected in six provinces, UNJP also worked to raise similar awareness in the community, even at lower levels. Purple Certificate Program that was launched by Sabancı University in 2007 focused on raising the awareness of high school teachers; 1313 teachers were covered, 153 were granted Purple Certificates.
The Essay Competition on “Women Friendly Cities” for high school students in the six provinces and the “Competition on Women Friendly Urban Space Model” for university students in related departments of universities are further examples of awareness raising efforts.
Bilingual web pages www.bm.kadinhaklari.org and www.protectingwomen.org were used to disseminate information and news concerning UNJP in English and Turkish. The Turkish web pages of the Program at www.bmkadinhaklari.org were hit 57.500 times between 2007-2009.
Within the framework of the Joint Program, 18 books and booklets –including 4 by KA-DER Ankara-, 15 posters, 6 provincial brochures, bilingual and continuously renewed information notices and 13 newsletters –including 1 special edition- were published.
The Case of Trabzon: Achievements and Future Prospects
Local service providers in general suggest that they reach all sections of the society although they mostly ignore women. This illusion was the case in Trabzon too, as well as in all other cities. However a dramatic change started together with the UNJP.
By the year 2005, four women’s organizations and women activists were campaigning for women’s rights in Trabzon. However, the successes achieved were mostly limited by the will and good intentions of the local governors and the attempts were lacking transformative effectiveness over the city. It was almost impossible to distinguish the practices of the civil society from the practices of the benevolents since the idea of “rights-based struggle” was not clarified.
The same understanding was effectual also with regards to the services of the local governments or local agencies of the central government, and their interactions with the civil society. Women’s organizations were taken into the processes for social welfare activities and ignored on other service supplies claiming no concern/connection. Considering the 1% female representation in the local councils, the production of services directed to women was almost impossible. The validity of this setting was clearly evident when one bewared the conditions of the women in the city.
There were no community centers, women’s shelters, mechanisms including women in decision making processes (women’s assemblies, equality units, and commissions for gender equality), family advisory centers, sites for socialization of women or city planning to include women to the city. Women were leading lives bayed into the walls through the narrow streets of the city.
The UNJP that was to evoke transformation in Trabzon in terms of gender equality set out at such a background. It was a roofing program and that was its prominent characteristic: Instead of holding “the issue of women” from one point, UNJP chose the way to handle all issues related to Trabzon from a gender-sensitive perspective. That was the distinctive point, and success of the Program at the same time. In doing so, UNJP adopted a working principle not only focused to solve women’s and girls’ problems, but also including gender equality which takes men into consideration as well.
The departure point of the activities of the UNJP was the Local Equality Action Plan for Trabzon (TLEAP). UNJP institutionalized and located the gender equality inside local policies through TLEAP. The preparation period of TLEAP was as educative as the action plan. The actors who previously did not come together to produce solutions for the city arranged workshops. The activities with local governors, women’s organizations, and related non-governmental organizations contributed for the establishment of relations between local services and women. Two of the results deriving from this process were very critical: First, the unexpected difficulty to focus the local and second, the reality that this difficulty causes deadlock for problems. Since “women’s problems” were evaluated via national prototypes, it was getting hard to define the very local problems and produce particular solutions for them or the solutions produced over the stereotypes were not reflecting the reality.
The frequent meetings on the same subject with common people and the workshops contributed for the production of sustainable solutions. The actors purified from all prejudices, focused on the objectives and the preparations for the local equality plan were commenced. The most prominent gain at this point was the steps taken for the cooperation between local governments, local agencies of the central government and NGOs free from hierarchy. The preparation period of the local action plans contributed by contemplating on local problems, focusing on the local even through national solutions and providing localization. Collaborative working groups were created to work on how to adapt solutions to the local. LEAP’s general framework was holding the issue under 7 main topics. In fact and as clarified above, that was not the choice of the local itself and it was a method proposed by the Program experts
The endeavors to institutionalize gender equality were mainly collected under the “participation to the local decision making mechanisms” topic. The trivet was defined in institutionalization. The first one was the Equality Commissions in the local councils. A great step was taken by establishing commissions appointed to evaluate the files coming to the councils according to gender equality, to develop and present to the councils, models for the supply of services for gender equality. A new deficiency occurred when gender equality as an unfamiliar notion could not be related with the task definition of the council and stood as an obstacle before the council commissions to work fruitfully. Trainings and workshops were organized for the bureaucrats and the municipality employees, nevertheless the program tried to include the elected to the education, but it was not achieved. As a result, it was realized that it was hard to reach the targets without creating awareness on the elected governors who are to take decisions.
Another important improvement was the establishment of Equality Units. The meetings with the Governor on the essentiality of an equality unit to enable the sustainability of gender equality and to talk about a real change gave positive results and it was the first in Turkey. Equality Units were established in all public institutions and bodies following the Governor’s circular. The main objective of these units was to analyze all services with a gender perspective. At this point, the will to lay the foundations of an understanding was more important than other gains. A public institution educated their staff on gender equality in order to write a report to the Equality Unit. This example demonstrated that our activities may have unexpected multiplier effects. On the other hand, Equality Unit broke a new ground and initiated an operation to install gender equality in the strategic planning of the local governments. On this issue, both the Governorship and the women’s organizations leaded an effective working. Regular meetings with the institutions that prepare the strategic plans and lobbying of the Equality Commissions within the councils gave positive results. Many changes were guaranteed by the inclusion of gender equality in equality plans, taking a share from the budget for equality, improvement of policies for equality and pursuit of services. Such that, although a long running lobbying had to be pursued for taking a share for women’s studies in the 2009 budget, in 2010 after the equality issue was taken into strategic planning a higher rated share from the budget was acquired without any additional effort.
Women’s Rights Coordination Council which has a roofing institutional function constitutes the last piece. Above all, the Council lays out the genius of a common platform which has sustainability and the institutional structure bringing the civil society, local governors and administrators, the elected and the appointed together. The structure of the Council came to the picture only as a consequence of great efforts. The institutions did not welcome a new council since there were too many councils and commissions in the city which take all their time in meeting and even do not let people work. So, the operation and efficiency of a new formation, and the ways to active participation of all inclusive institutions were searched. Thus, the method formalized for the council foresees meetings only with the organizations related to the subject of the meeting and 3 full participated meetings a year which is made up of 28 different institutions. The Council has signed for the decisions of the recommendation for the establishment of Equality Units, women’s representation at the local councils, keeping gender-segregated statistics of the institutions and the provision of free cancer scanning for women twice a year. Within TLEAP, solutions were produced for service supplies in all sections and for more effective ruling of the available services.
The major outcome of this partnership and cooperation was the foundation of The Union of Assembly Monitoring. As a result of awareness raising studies, the women’s organizations in Trabzon tried to develop strategies to keep up with and have an impact on the decisions made by the local elected councils as they get informed about the process and significance of the decisions. The distinguishing feature of the formation was that it consisted of not only women’s organizations, but also political parties, chambers and different non-governmental organizations. Another impact of the consciousness brought by partnership and cooperation practices revealed itself amongst women’s organizations: The organizations the number of which increased to 13 by the official end of the Program developed the idea of a platform upon realizing the effectiveness of being together. The first association was for the Project of Citizenship Rights and Reunion of Women, which was signed with the Directorate of National Education. Women’s organizations signed the project as a platform the potential of which was deeply appreciated and took a step with the campaign named 40 Neighborhoods 40 Mukhtars. The organizations struggling to increase the number of women candidates cooperated and launched the campaign on behalf of Trabzon Women’s Platform. Trainings were organized in 40 neighborhoods and 12 women became mukhtars candidates. The campaign was so successful that in some districts men candidates had to affiliate and only one women candidate could be elected. However, women’s organizations as a platform proved their legitimacy both in view of themselves and of local executives, which was regarded as the major advantage.
There were studies carried out within the scope of the common Program as well as those performed through the local organizations’ own initiative as a result of the awareness evoked by the Program. The research conducted by Regional Directorate of National Productivity was a striking example of this. At the meetings and trainings performed in Trabzon within the scope of UNJP, Black Sea Region Directorate of National Productivity Centre (NPC) was involved as a participant. In the light of the information and experience transferred within the activities, it was thought that the research project, which displays the number of women in rural areas who are taking advantage from the services, was to contribute to initiatives pro-women in the following years. In accordance with this purpose, it was concluded to prepare a research project the subject of which is “Women Benefit Levels from City Services, Problems and Solution Proposals”. A protocol was signed in cooperation with Trabzon Municipality as it was considered that the municipality is of great significance in offering the services. Following a survey study employing a convenient questionnaire, meetings were held with the directors of organizations through which certain solutions came up with.
If one tries to evaluate retrospectively the experience of the UNJP by 20th January 2010 -which was the official deadline-, and to compare to the situation by the end of 2005, certain points might be notable:
First of all, a dramatic change was observed in the perspective of local organizations to that of local authorities. Local authorities had used to put the blame on local organizations due to their non-functionality; on the other hand, local organizations were claiming that local authorities were not reconciliatory and effective. On the plus side, such accusations were dissolved and it became apparent that the main problem was lack of communication the result of which was two sides respecting each other’s view. Thus, the importance of the mechanisms, especially those which are of institutional level, was made explicit.
The change in the mentality paved the way for an understanding which approves that the services concerning women should not take place within special headings. The deputy governor in one of his interviews said, “when I see the pavements I evaluate according to the number of women with prams”. Differently from cliché utterances, the arrangements made in favour of women within urban transformation projects and referring to women in strategic plans enabled other organizations and chambers to participate in the process, which influenced other organizations positively and greatly contributed to the development of gender equality. Especially, the change in NPC was considerable. The demand for a research on the number of women benefiting from urban services by NPC, which is known to be productive, altered the common belief that certain organizations are liable for the services of women. One important point is that the expert, who was carrying out the research and the director of NPC was a woman, which proved the importance of women in decision making processes.
The efforts made to change the mentality, the tendency towards the justification of the rights and local authorities added a new dimension to the relationship between the civil society and citizens. The awareness was more clearly observed amongst non-governmental organizations, which were more systematically supported. The hierarchical structure altered when the municipality and governorship developed a new point of which regards enabling services as a responsibility and cooperation as a duty rather than a favour. Thus, instead of the support by local authorities the partnership of them was in question. It has been experienced that the relations with local authorities could better be maintained on the institutional level rather than depending on personal ties.
Another feature that made the common program special and efficient was the grant programme designed for putting TLEAP into practice. The gain from the grant programme was that the effect of budgeted funds was substantial than it was expected. When the application requirements and budgets were taken into consideration, UN projects were not preferred by the councils that were lacking financial power. In fact, there still does not exist a council that is the coordinator of a UN project in Trabzon. However, the small amount of grant fund gave women’s organizations a chance to gain such an experience. The projects of Working Women Has Freedom, the project for the mothers of visually-handicapped people, the project of conscious society; clean town, the project of travel to women friendly villages and the project of sexist language in the media revealed that low-budgeted projects are designed in accordance with demand since personal interests do not matter. The obligation to work with volunteers rather than professionals contributes to the sustainability and local income.
Besides positive improvements there still appear certain risks. One major drawback is that activities are performed depending on the preferences of individuals, which is also the key success factor. In addition to regional achievements on the institutional level, the progress will not be able to go further unless they are advocated by laws, memorandums and regulations. However, the case of Van differs from that of others. As the relations with local administrators got worse, the municipality gave up the project. On the contrary, Trabzon was fortunate in that TLEAP was accomplished without a hitch thanks to sensible administrators although various governors, the chiefs of provincial assembly and municipality were involved in the project. There is no doubt that the institutional structure on the local level is not expected to maintain its efficiency unless it becomes prevalent in Turkey. The initiative concerning the Promoting and Expanding of Women Friendly Cities, extending a call to other provinces to prepare their respective LEAPs, undersigned by the governors and mayors of the six pilot provinces on 20th January 2010 or the memorandum launched by the Ministry of Internal Affairs by 19 February 2010, which offers setting up equality units, can be interpreted from every aspect. It is essential that the commissions and units set up within the program should be guaranteed by laws.
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