Simla Türker Bayazıt, Member of Board of Directors of Fenerbahçe Sports Club, Asya Varbanova, Country Director of UN Women, İbrahim Yelmenoğlu, General Manager of Tüpraş, and Janine Shepherd from Australia, who is one of the most popular and inspiring speakers with her challenging spirit and passion for life, were the speakers of this event that was organized in Faruk Ilgaz Facilities. Youth members from 9 different branches of Fenerbahçe Sports Club competing to be the champion and students of Fenerbahçe Sports Schools and ‘Girls Soccer School’ of Fenerbahçe Sports Club, which is the first of its kind, have also participated in the event.
The event started with a stand in silence in memory of our hero martyrs that lost their lives in cross-border operations, in particular the Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of our Republic, and his brothers in arms and singing our National Anthem altogether. The video of projects, completed by Fenerbahçe Sports Club for HeForShe initiative played afterward.
Simla Türker Bayazıt, Member of Board of Directors of Fenerbahçe Sports Club: May God rest their souls and I condole with and wish patience for the families of all our martyrs that lost their lives in Idlib
Simla Türker Bayazıt, Member of Board of Directors of Fenerbahçe Sports Club, who took the stand after the video, started her speech by wishing condolences for our soldiers who were martyred in Idlib. Highlighting the significance of gender equality and the projects of Fenerbahçe Sports Club, which is the defender of gender equality, as a part of HeForShe initiative, Simla Türker Bayazıt said:
“Dear Members of our Board of Directors, valuable executives and teams of our partner, Tüpraş, and UN Women, our valuable members, special guests and dear media members, welcome all.
Our Chairman is unfortunately not with us now despite his wish due to private reasons. He kindly asked me to send his love and respect to you. Hopefully, we will all be together in our next organization.
Today is March 8, International Women’s Day, but more importantly, the young and old alike, we are all following the bad news that we received from our hero soldiers that fight beyond our borders for our welfare and to defend our homeland. Unfortunately, we are passing through a difficult period, but there is no doubt that these difficult days will strengthen the unity and solidarity in our country. May God rest their souls and I condole with and wish patience for the families of all our martyrs that lost their lives in Idlib. My condolences to our country and nation. It is our biggest wish that this difficult period ends with minimum loss.
If we return today, we are now together with you again in a very special day and I am so excited too. As Fenerbahçe Sports Club, under the leadership of our Chairman, Mr. Ali Koç, we made a global agreement with United Nations in November 2018 for Women and Girls and with this agreement we broke a new ground in our country and in the international arena. As a part of this agreement that we made with the support of our partner, Tüpraş, we started to wear on the arms of our soccer team’s jerseys the logo of HeForShe initiative, which was initiated by UN Women for gender equality and women. By signing a commitment with UN for this purpose, we published our manifest for this sensitive and important subject and we said ‘We are equal together in every moment and every part of life’. As Fenerbahçe, we acted as a model and pioneer in sports and society with these steps that we have taken for gender equality as we did in all other areas for a better world and a better future. We have brought forward the values and century old culture of being a member of Fenerbahçe once more for women and girls together with all our principles that touch people and society. We have taken several steps to ensure that women and girls play more active roles and act more actively and inclusively in sports and society.
We started to work initially within our club in order to explain our awareness initiative better and to adopt it and, for this purpose, we provided gender equality trainings to all our staff, players and technical staff, totally 1068 people. We X-rayed our club with the studies we performed together with HeForShe for equality purposes and we determined the steps to be taken in order to improve ourselves and for this purpose, as Fenerbahçe Sports Club, we said ‘Stop violence on women’. We said, ‘Women succeed in anything if they want’. We said, ‘If there is no woman, there is no equality; if there is no equality, there is no future’ and we said ‘We are here for women and for equality’ with the social power of Fenerbahçe that reaches to millions of people.
Today we are here for March 8, International Women’s Day, and we are hosting International Women’s Day organization with the motto of “Gender Equality on the 25th anniversary of Beijing Declaration, which was signed in 1995 by UN Women and accepted as one of the most important global agendas for women’s rights.
Same as our country, there are also many special women athletes in the history of Fenerbahçe and, fortunately, some of them are together with us today. We are glad that you are here. You have honored us. New generations, members of youth Fenerbahçe Sports Club, for which their unique stories will be a model and which will successfully represent the flag of Fenerbahçe and our country, are also here.
Being proud of for being the biggest club of Turkey, even the world that will be represented by the highest number of athletes from 9 branches in Olympic Games once more in this year, Fenerbahçe will continue to take steps for awareness for women and girls. As of today we have 11 athletes that will compete in Tokyo Olympic Games and we believe that this number will increase day by day. We wish success to all our athletes in advance.
Now I would like to say once more ‘We are equal together’ in front of you for a better and brighter future, in which our women would never be exposed to any injustice and discrimination and live completely away from any kind of violence and in which the right to live is accepted as sacred as bread and water and dark murders to any of living beings are ended. As Fenerbahçe Sports Club, the proud of this responsibility that we have assumed for women by breaking a new ground and the things that we have done and will continue to do in future do belong to all of us. Happy March 8, International Women’s’ Day for all of us as being modern Turkish women that follow the path of Atatürk.”
İbrahim Yelmenoğlu, General Manager of Tüpraş, says “Our energy never runs out for equality” and adds that they will continue to support inclusiveness and diversity in every platform
İbrahim Yelmenoğlu, General Manager of Tüpraş, took the stand. Stating that they are proud of being a part of the event, Yelmenoğlu said: “We are here together on this very meaningful day that is dedicated to the achievements of women throughout the world for equality. Here we have women athletes from different generations, whose determination, fight and achievements have become a model. These athletes have made us proud with the results they achieved in international platforms.”
Yelmenoğlu added, “As the largest corporation of our country, we are responsible not only for producing an economic added value, but also for leading the change and transformation of our society. While acting with the principle of equality and inclusiveness in Tüpraş, we are also working hard to create an awareness in the society for strengthening of women. 2 years ago we joined a global collaboration together with UN Women’s HeforShe initiative and Fenerbahçe Sports Club. This collaboration, aiming to reach more people for equality, was also the trigger for our corporation to change and transform. Women field operators and technicians have joined us for the first time in Batman and then in our Izmit and Kırıkkale refineries. We will continue to support inclusiveness and diversity in every platform by saying “Our energy never runs out for equality”.
Asya Varbanova, Country Director of UN Women: Let’s create equal opportunity for women and girls in every area of life
Asya Varbanova, Country Director of UN Women, who took the stand thereafter, talked about gender equality and said:
“What does He ForShe mean? As you all know, HeForShe is a global solidarity movement, initiated by UN Women. HeForShe continues to grow strongly with Fenerbahçe thanks to the club’s more than 25 million fans. It is not a coincidence to collaborate with a sports club for HeForShe, because participation of women in sports is very important for strengthening of gender equality. Sports may teach the values, such as teamwork and self-confidence to women and girls and can be a significant driving force for gender equality in the society. Leadership and self-confidence are a few of these values.
Today women challenge the social norms and do actually show that they are equal at this point, which they have already done for long years. They have shown how strong and durable they are at least same as the men. I’m very happy to see so many girls and women with us today. When we look at Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, we see that women are also represented equally with men and almost 48.8% of the participants would be women. If we are going to make a comparison, this ratio was only 2.2% of all athletes that participated in Olympic Games, which started in 1900s and there were only 22 women of 1000 athletes. We have come a long way until today, but despite these achievements women are still exposed to several discriminations in sports, such as unequal wages, unequal sponsorship opportunities and less support. For instance, the amount that is paid to the highest-paid player of NBA is much higher than the amount paid to all women players of WNBA.
Women are still being alienated from some sports, are ignored time to time and are recognized less, because there are some cultural obstacles. Therefore they are less supported. We see that Turkey has taken a step to change this and what you did here may create an encouragement for the world.
2020 is a very important year for social gender equality. This is not any year and today is not any of those international women’s day, because we are in such an important year that it is called ‘Gender Equality Year’. We are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of implementation of Beijing Platform with all our partners. This platform was accepted in 1995 and is now the most comprehensive and the most assertive initiative that has reflected the efforts of women for gender equality and this agreement was signed by many countries, including Turkey. We ask ourselves, How far we managed to go? What have we achieved? What must be done more? What can we do more for our joint targets?
Today, imagine a world that everyone has equal rights. Imagine a world, where women and girls do not afraid of going home at night, women and men are paid equally by doing the same work and they share their house works equally. Also imagine that women are taking a role in political leadership and they have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Currently we don’t have such a world, but we are decisive to have it, because I believe that we showed such a will and decisiveness that we will succeed to have that world. We will have it today, not 25 years later and this will be achieved during our generation. Therefore, today we combine our forces and say, ‘We are at a place of gender equality’ and we gathered around this campaign that gathers people from all cultures, ages, ethnic origins and religions. I would like to thank a lot to our partners, board members, executives of Koç Holding and executives of Fenerbahçe Sports Club. Thank you very much for being with us on this significant journey. Let’s create equal opportunity for women and girls in every area of life.”
After the speeches, players in the youth setup of Fenerbahçe Sports Club, who attended the event, asked questions to professional athletes that achieved significant successes in their careers and received their answers.
Then Janine Shepherd, who has a remarkable life story and who is one of the most poular and inspiring speakers of today with her challenging spirit and love for life and an author and acrobatic pilot, took the stage. Shepherd, who was one of the most promising cross-skiers of Australia when she was seriously injured as a result of an accident that she had while cycling for her training and then stayed at the hospital as paralyzed for six months. She managed not only to learn walking again but to start a new life with her superior determination, which was considered as an “impossible thing” by medical professionals, told her life story that has become a model for everyone with her determination and vigor and answered the question of attendants.
Erol Bilecik, Vice Chairman of Fenerbahçe Sports Club: I’m celebrating March 8, International Women’s Day, not formally, but most sincerely
Erol Bilecik, the Vice Chairman of Fenerbahçe Sports Club, took the stand finally and said, “I’m celebrating March 8, International Women’s Day, not formally, but most sincerely. We heard tremendous stories and this wonderful wave of excitement has really surrounded us. There is not any enough word to say for March 8, Women’s Day. Fenerbahçe Sports Club would not exist and it would not be possible for the club to achieve its current position if it would only deal with sports but refrain to deal with national issues. Therefore I sincerely congratulate the entire team, in particular Ms. Simla, who worked hard for this beautiful event. I sincerely congratulate all of you by reminding the words of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: ‘Everything we see in the world is the creative work of women’ and I would like to thank you for attending and working together with our Fenerbahçe.”
Jerseys were presented as a gift to attendants and speakers and the event ended with a group photo taken on the stage.