What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
Women employment has been a priority in Turkey as in the world. While the global economic crisis has been increasing the unemployment rates for last 2 years, women’s already existed disadvantaged position has caused them to be effected from the global crisis more. The main reasons of women unemployment are their low education level, gender discriminative practices, traditional and socially-accepted roles and responsibilities as child care, housework. And this situation force women to work in low-paid, temporary jobs without social insurance or to raise income through alternative ways in informal sector. There are app. 6 million people in informal sector n Turkey and 1/3 of them are women; half of these women are home-based working women. And these micro-scale initiatives are very important tools in struggling with the poverty.
There is increase in programs, projects developed and implemented by various public/non-state organizations to support women employment. However, these efforts seem to be far from creating concrete and permanent solutions. They mostly focus on handcraft skills training which don’t meet the market needs or don’t provide capacity to sustain a business. Therefore; it is needed to create need-oriented and sustainable support mechanisms. At this point, the Micro-net Portal created by FSWW comes up as an important tool where women can access free and one-by-one counseling, information; share experiences and create common solutions, become visible and promote their initiatives/products.
Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.
Sengül received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Yildiz Technical University in 1976. After studying English in the UK, she returned to Turkey where she obtained a Master's degree in Public Administration at Bosphorus University in Istanbul and launched her foundation.
In the early 1980's, the feminist movement began to grow rapidly in Turkey. Although Sengül participated in activities of Turkish feminist groups in the early 1980's, she understood that it was necessary to empower the majority of women who were often excluded from elitist feminist circles. She was determined to establish an organization which was outside the scope of the existing women's groups in Turkey. She understood that for people to lead quality lives, those women who had no voice and were living in poverty, needed to gain a platform for active participation in society. She launched her foundation with initial financial support from family members and from the local municipality.
Sengül was one of the first to start an NGO after the 1980 military coup.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another source, please provide the information