International Day of the Girl 2020 Report
“My Voice, Our Equal Future”
This year, we commemorate 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action — the first global agenda for advancing the rights of women and girls. The International Day of the Girl Child was dedicated to highlight the challenges girls face and to promote empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights around the globe. This year, under the theme, “My Voice, Our Equal Future,” we would like to take this opportunity to inform our supporters of the important work Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF) is doing to combat gender inequality and advancing rights and opportunities for young women and girls in Turkey.
According to the United Nations, each day, more than 1.1 billion girls around the world are breaking barriers, tackling issues like child marriage, education inequality, violence, climate justice, and inequitable access to healthcare. It is a well-documented fact that when we invest in women and gender equality, we create a better world for everyone because supporting a woman not only benefits her, but her family and community and nation.
Higher education paves the way to social and economic empowerment. Access to this level of education is, however, still a distant dream for 62 million girls and women around the world; including the hundreds and thousands of young women from rural provinces of Turkey who don’t receive the same quality education as boys. Many young women are unable to attend school regularly, and face unsafe conditions as they travel to and from school. Although progress has been made in the areas of access to education, health, and economic opportunities for women and girls; unfortunately, Turkey still ranks 130th out of 149 countries according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2018).
“BTF believes in the power of investing in education and building futures for underserved women and girls in Turkey.”
As an all-volunteer-run nonprofit organization, one of BTF’s main goals is to invest in the future of female college students and bridge the gender gap in all aspects of their lives in order to accelerate sustainable development in Turkey. As a result, BTF has established its Girls’ Empowerment Scholarships Program aimed at prioritizing education of girls, as cycles of poverty and illiteracy can be broken in just one generation. We are pleased to report that, during the 2019–2020 Academic Year, we provided scholarships to 1,172 students from underserved regions of Turkey — totaling our impact to 4,600 students supported in over a decade with $2.1M in total investment funds in the form of educational scholarships.
“To date, BTF has supported hundreds of projects in Turkey via investment grants totaling over $4.5M all benefiting underserved children in Turkey.”
This year, we collaborated again with 17 well-respected NGO partners and university foundations, one of which is our most significant partner: The Association for Supporting Contemporary Life or, in Turkish, Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği (ÇYDD). to provide scholarships to 860 students through 38 ÇYDD branch offices, enabling us to reach out to girls from low-income rural communities who are typically not encouraged to go to school.
Thanks to generous contributions from supporters like you, these young women are staying in school, graduating, and becoming productive members of their communities. This year, we have seen 201 students graduating from majors such as STEM, law, medical/health sciences, education, social sciences, and business administration fields. We are confident that our graduates will soon be breaking barriers as they enter their fields of profession and become leaders and activists to accelerate social change in their communities.
Below is a heartfelt letter we received from one of our scholars who graduated as a schoolteacher from Trakya University in Edirne and what this education meant to her:
“I was born in a very small village in Erzurum. In the year I was born, girls were not allowed to go to school in our village. As a child, I remember crying for days wondering if they would let me go to school. Then, with the support of my uncle, I was given the chance to attend secondary school. I call this “luck”, because I lived in a society where educating girls was considered shameful or even a sin. Until I heard the same complaints from other girls in my school, I thought I was alone in my struggles and fight against those people who continually put obstacles to prevent girls like me to get an education, because of cultural and religious beliefs. In high school, I heard about an organization (ÇYDD) that supported rural girls by providing scholarships. It was then that I first realized I was not alone! However, I felt great sadness for all of my friends who were forced to get married at a very young age in our village and mad at all those adults who allowed this to happen…Even though we have never met, your support was special to me and gave me the courage to complete my education. With the scholarship I received, I was able to cover most my educational needs both for myself and my little sister. With your scholarships, not only you provided financial support, but also moral support for me. This year, I graduated as a primary school teacher, and one day, I wish to be able to touch other people’s lives just like you have done for me and instill hope in those people. Thank you again for your support! — Şebnem, from Edirne
Remote learning due to the pandemic has exposed and widened inequity among students across the globe, including Turkish youth…
This year, as if there weren’t enough barriers to getting an education for these women, they had to face yet another challenge posed by a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities in education due to a lack of simple things like computers and access to the Internet. In response to this crisis, we received countless requests from our NGO partners for hundreds of STEM students who did not have access to computers or internet required for remote learning. We rolled up our sleeves and launched the Laptops4Kids initiative to provide much-needed computers and tablets to students who are particularly hard-hit by long-standing inequities in the education system. We encourage you to support this project by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1222892194745462/10158121675503248/?fundraiser_source=feed&source_data[post_id]=10158121675503248
Please continue to follow us to learn more about BTF’s Empowerment Scholarships Program and join our cause to make the impossible possible for these young women and provide them with the life-changing gift of education. We welcome you to become one of our advocates, by visiting: https://www.bridgetoturkiye.org/light-the-path/
Wishing you and your families safe and healthy days ahead and, as always, thanks for your continued support!
Bridge to Türkiye Fund is a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with IRS Tax ID of 58–2678580. 100 Fox Briar Lane, Cary, NC 27518