Arts, sports, and technology foster empowerment of girls

The conference on the International Day of the Girl Child co-organized by UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women in Turkey in partnership with Aydın Doğan Foundation centered on girls’ empowerment through science, arts, and sports. The common message given to hundreds of girls at the conference is, “Set a goal, work hard and never give up!”


Brass Girls. Photo: Aydın Doğan Foundation
Music for Peace, “Brass Girls” Performance. Photo: Aydın Doğan Foundation

The 4th International Day of the Girl Child Conference themed “Empowered Girls, Empowered Future: Empowerment of Girls through Science, Arts and Sports”, hosted distinguished speakers who have achieved national and international success in various branches of science, arts and sports.

The conference, co-organized by Aydın Doğan foundation, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women, focused on revealing the full potential of girls in sports, arts and science. Speakers shared their own success stories and discussed the contributions of science, arts and sports for the empowerment of girls.

The guest speaker of the conference was Zainab Salbi, who is the founder of Women for Women International, a humanitarian and development organization dedicated to serving and empowering women survivors of wars. Addressing the girls at the conference, she said: “Each one of us have a dream. The only thing that distinguish us is the opportunities. It is possible to live our dreams and make our dreams come true. If I did, each girl can live her dream. Do not silence your voice. Do not leave yourself behind.”

Giving the opening speech of the conference, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, Vice Chairwoman of the Aydın Doğan Foundation, said that empowered girls means empowered future. “All girls have potential in them. Our responsibility is to provide equal opportunities for them,” she stated.

Dr. Sabine Freizer, UN Women Acting Head of Office in Turkey, said that girls are change makers who build the future. “Arts and sports are areas to foster empowerment of girls. Our responsibility is to support them to reach their full potential, hear their voices and help them to build their and our society’s future,” said Ms. Freizer.

“Empowering girls with knowledge is not only good for girls, it is essential for prosperous societies. When we invest in our girls’ education and well-being, we are investing not only in their future but in the future of humanity,” said Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey.

“If we hear and listen girls, they will talk about the discrimination they face because of the gender stereotypes” said Meltem Ağduk, UNFPA Gender Programme Coordinator.

Derya Ozkaya Matras, Turkey Country Director at Facebook, focused on how technology is evolving and stated: “If we find our life goal, work hard and never give up, we can empower girls. Technology offers great opportunities for empowerment. Let’s change the rules of the game”.

The conference included panel sessions on girls’ empowerment through science, arts and sports and special performances by young artists from the Mardin-Mesopotamia Circus and Street Arts Group and Music for Peace. The event also featured a dance performance by Gizem Nalbant, a young artist that is working to empower girls and the youth through art and dance.

The conference also hosted an arts, science and technology exhibition by students from various schools.