In the words of Sehnaz Kiymaz Bahceci: “Women and LGBTIQ individuals need governments that stand up behind their commitments”

Date: Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Sehnaz Kiymaz Bahceci at the Regional Review Meeting. Photo: UN Women/ Antoine Tardy
Sehnaz Kiymaz Bahceci at the Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting. Photo: UN Women/ Antoine Tardy

Sehnaz Kiymaz Bahceci is the representative of the Women for Women’s Human Rights `New ways`, which aims to promote women's human rights, equality and non-discrimination in Turkey. She attended the 25th Regional Review Meeting of the Beijing Platform for Action for the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Region as well as the Civil Society Forum ahead of the meeting. In her interview, Ms. Bahceci speaks about the key takeaways from the events and why governments need to stand up behind their commitments towards gender equality.

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I am a feminist, but I wasn’t able to go to Beijing in 1995. So, now it has been incredible for me to see so many civil society activists here who are continuing to work for gender equality across our region. It was incredible to listen to them, as well as the young women who are very passionate and ready to work together.

The main takeaway from the Civil Society Forum is how beautiful, strong and full of solidarity this moment looks.

Another takeaway is the depth of our expertise. We had many thematic and sub-regional groups – from political participation to women and media, from climate change to the anti-equality movements. We discussed what more needs to be done and we identified the gaps in terms of achieving gender equality and looked at what we have achieved so far.

The third takeaway is that all the recommendations that we have heard so far have been very significant in showing us that our hashtag #feministwantsystemchangeis very relevant. Many problems we are facing and many of the remaining gaps are actually related to structural issues that need to be tackled within political and economic structures. So, we need stronger solidarity and stakeholder engagement from all sides, as well from the feminist movements, to ensure that we realize the commitments that were made 25 years ago and also to deal with issues that are currently emerging and were not foreseen during Beijing Conference.

This is why our main message is that women and LGBTIQ individuals need governments that stand up behind their commitments. It is true that all these commitments were given by the governments in power 25 years ago, yet, we have seen over time, that some of them were not upheld as strongly as they should have been. The feminist movements worked tirelessly over 25 years, but without other stakeholder engagement, such as governments and international organizations, making gender equality a reality will not be that easy. We will need more and more time and I don’t think that we can wait another 25 years.

We need to act fast and together, we need to be on the same page regarding the commitments that already have been made and the new ones that need to be made on the emerging issues that we are facing today.

In the end, I think this meeting has shown us once again that the feminist movement learned from each other and is able to stand in solidarity despite the different voices among us. And, this is because our ultimate goal in the area of women’s empowerment and gender equality is the same. We all want to work together, and the solidarity and sisterhood, which is coming from the Beijing spirit, is still here.”