The Marmara Earthquake in 1999 became a springboard for NGO’s in Turkey. Many civil initiatives were formed and filled the lack of the state institutions. Some of these initiatives continued their work and KADAV was one of these groups. KADAV, which was found in Istanbul by women, who defined themselves as “Women Solidarity Group”, concentrated mainly on gender issues in disaster areas.
Women in that region already suffered gender based discrimination before the disaster, such as isolation, being captive in the domestic area and unemployment and the burden of gender roles. The earthquake intensified these conditions, which is why the women were even more in need of solidarity with them. The first thing, the “Women Solidarity Group” did, was to pitch tents. September 1999 in Gölcük and November 1999 in Düzce, they implemented social and psychological support, activities in attempt to rehabilitate and make an income, programs for children and many more activities in the “women tents”.
In May 2000 in Gölcük/Şirinköy in a prefabricated area candle and house textile ateliers were set up, where the activities were continued. The women produced something by themselves the first time by joining the workshops, increased the quality of the production very fast and even started to create several designs. The products were exposed in fairs and sold in big stores. In October 2001 the 36 women, working in the atelier, founded the “Environment, Culture and Working Cooperative of Fiskos Women” themselves and continued their productive work there. Despite of KADAVs ongoing support, the cooperative couldn’t deal with the competitive circumstances and finally ended their activity in 2004.
The New Step Woman Education and Culture Center
With the long term aims of the solidarity programs and the struggle with gender inequality coming to the forefront, the solidarity group felt the need of becoming official and founded the “Women’s Solidarity Foundation” (KADAV) in 2001.
With international financial sources given after the earthquake, KADAV planed to build a multipurpose culture center for women. In 18th August 2002 in Kocaeli-Köşeköy (now known as KARTEPE) the foundations of the “New Step Women Education and Culture Center” were laid. Build with the personally and heartfelt help of the architectures Memik Yapıcı and Mücella Yapıcı, in 2004 the women-friendly, environment-friendly and earthquake-resistent Education and Culture Center were put into service. Until 2010 computer, coiffure, bookkeeping and other profession related courses, creativity and art making courses and access employment counseling services as well as different supports in case of violence against women were provided.
Furthermore, with running social empowering and women directed economy oriented group works in the region, connected to the county Kocaeli and nearby counties, regional women strucutres were formed and the participation of women in the region in different education programs were ensured. As a result of the reciprocal visits with important representatives of the women’s movement in India, workshops were realized. Three books of Kamla Bashin, who participated in the program, are available in turkish now.
While running gender inequality oriented programs, starting with the solidarity after the disaster in the Kocaeli region, KADAV also got involved in campaigns for women’s rights all across Turkey as a component of the women’s movement. During preparations of violence prevention aimed protective regulations, Civil Law and Turkish Criminal Law, KADAV supported organized campaigns and programs for bringing in clauses in support of women. The service as well as politics oriented work in that region, mainly in the fields of employment and violence against women, continued until the end of 2010.
The journey goes on from local to everywhere
The New Steps Center, located in the city Köşeköy (Kartepe) and 30 minutes away from Kocaeli, were build with a capacity (1650 m2) highly over the actual women population there, with the thought of covering all counties and districts around Kocaeli. Although KADAV was a very active, decisive and even founding actor in the gender oriented programs, they faced difficulties to use the capacity properly. The Center were seen as too far away from the city center, especially in the regional sense. Besides, a cooperation with the local government in the region Kartepe were established in the beginning, but came to an end when the local government changed. That was why KADAV brought the common use of the Center up for discussion. During a time period about two years, the already existing activities continued. Meanwhile, with the women’s movement and the regional institutions the possibility of common programs within the context of feminist politics were evaluated, but they couldn’t work out concrete conditions for common activities. As a result, in 2010 KADAV made the decision to rent the center to a private education institution and use the income to run and support the ongoing political activities in Istanbul.
Since KADAV was founded 2001 in Istanbul, it participates in the common struggle of the turkish women’s movement with violence against women and gender inequality, supports women, who were exposed to violence and apply to KADAV, and runs different activities in the field of women’s labour and employment. Additionally, since 2011, there is the attempt to organize the solidarity with women and LGBTI person in prison and with migrant women, who all face multiple discrimination. Moreover, KADAV supports gender equality based organizations and runs education and research programs in different fields.