07 March Sunday

Istanbul Launches Local Equality Action Plan

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality introduced its first ever action plan tackling gender equality at a press meeting today in Istanbul’s Haliç Congress Center.

Speaking at the launch event on Sunday, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu stressed that upon his election in 2019, he had promised an equal, fair, and creative Istanbul for all. “You can be neither equal, fair nor creative without offering women equal opportunities, without hearing their voices. We cannot move forward with an understanding that puts women second. We don’t have any more time to waste on this,” İmamoğlu said.

The event was also attended by IMM Secretary General Can Akın Çağlar, Deputy Secretary General Dr. Şengül Altan Arslan, Deputy Secretary General Mahir Polat, and IMM Spokesperson Murat Ongun.

Istanbul’s Local Equality Action Plan (LEAP) presents a strategic roadmap for prioritizing and meeting the needs of women in Istanbul, especially those from disadvantaged groups, as well as migrants and refugees. In doing so, Istanbul’s LEAP is expected to set a precedent for numerous other municipalities across Istanbul and Turkey.

LEAP was put together with the joint effort of numerous women's organizations, NGOs, academics, IMM staff, city officials, and councilors.

“Gender equality in Istanbul will be institutionalized, widespread, sustainable, and traceable. There will be efficient budget planning that prioritizes the needs of women and children. We will develop services and policies that will make life easier for every woman in this city,” Mayor İmamoğlu explained at the launch event.

Speaking in reference to the city’s previous management, İmamoğlu reminded that some subsidiary companies owned by the IMM, such as the city’s main car park provider İSPARK, had no female employees prior to his election into office. “Some [municipal subsidiaries] did not have a single female employee. Can you believe it? I am proud to announce that all of our subsidiaries now have not only female employees but also female managers,” the Mayor said.

“We are increasing the employment of women and the proportion of female managers in the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. In doing so, we take care to make women visible in areas where there are few or no women. When we started our mission, we had no female drivers at IETT, the city’s main bus operator. Today we have female bus drivers, tram operators, police officers, and seawomen on ferries. Women are everywhere in Istanbul, and they will thrive everywhere,” he added.

The Mayor also spoke about the Municipality’s work focusing on countering violence against women.

“We support women who are abused or in danger with our multilingual Women's Support Line 24/7. In our Women's Solidarity House, we provide temporary housing services to abused women, which will empower them socioeconomically. Our greatest wish is that the days we discuss violence against women will be behind us.”

Before proceeding to launch two new books — “Women in Ottoman Istanbul” and “Women in Republican Istanbul”— published by the IMM on the occasion of March 8 International Women’s Day, Mayor İmamoğlu concluded by reiterating his wish for LEAP to set a precedent in Turkey. “I hope this plan sets a precedent. And as a society, I hope we work together to empower women and have an equal future,” he said.

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