“I Am a Woman at Work Panel” was held on the International Women’s Day by Istanbul Technical University North Cyprus Continuing Education Center. The panel, which took place on March 8, 2018 at the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce Conference Center, started with a reception and followed by the opening speeches. The opening speeches of the panel, which was sponsored by the Başman Group of Companies and Atleks Sanverler LTD- Önder, were given by ITU-TRNC Rector Prof. Dr. Ercan KAHYA, former Speaker of the Assembly Dr. Sibel SİBER, and the Minister of Health Filiz BESİM.
Following the opening speeches, the People’s Party (HP) Nicosia MP Gülşah Sanver MANAVOĞLU gave a presentation called “Woman’s Discovery of Her Power.” This is followed by the Director of Cyprus Turkish News Agency (TAK) Assoc. Prof. Dr Neriman SAYGILI’s speech “Academic Life and Women,” the General Director and Board Chairman of Kanal T Sibel TATAR’s speech “Women in Media and in Business Life,” and Başman Group- Avon director Pınar Başman SÜREN’s speech “If Women Want.”
ITU-TRNC Rector Prof. Dr. Ercan KAHYA stated that half of the university staff are women and three Advisors to Rector in İstanbul are women. KAHYA said that they had a great chance to bring important and influential women together on that day and stressed the importance of women in society and in the workplace. In his speech, KAHYA also shared some data about women’s position in Turkey with the audience.
Former Speaker of the Assembly Dr. Sibel SİBER pointed out that half of the world population is women, and if that population does not take part in economic, social and cultural life, the society declines in power by half. SİBER reminded that countries where men and women take part in economic, social and cultural life equally are the developed countries and she added that 47 percent of women and 53 percent men work in public sector in North Cyprus according to TRNC State Planning Organization statistics. SİBER said that the real problem was not the number of women in the workplace but rather the lack of women’s presence in higher positions. She said there weren’t enough women in decision making levels, which has also been a problem all over the world; a problem that underlines the difficulty of breaking the glass ceiling. SİBER stressed the importance of an increase in quota application and the number of successful women in politics and in other fields in providing positive role models. SİBER also said there are many educated and qualified women in the country and that political parties should work more in order to make these people visible and bring them in to the politics.
The Minister of Health Filiz BESİM started her speech by saying; “I salute all women struggling for equality, democracy and justice on 8 March International Women’s Day”. BESİM emphasized the importance of constitutionalizing the decisions taken in UN and EU commissions regarding women and efforts for establishing a Gender Equality Office. She added that quota regulations proved to be successful and explained that there had been four women members of parliament in the Assembly during the previous term and that this number increased to nine after the insertion of quotas. Having reminded that two women members of parliament existed in the same cabinet for the first time, BESİM underlined the fact that the number of women in politics, work life and decision making mechanisms is far from being enough. She explained that according to 2016 statistics of TRNC State Planning Organization, 37 percent of the labor force is women and that 90 percent of them work in service sector. She added that there are few women in decision making mechanisms and managerial positions. BESİM expressed the need for women’s energy and point of view in politics and in high level managerial positions and finished her words by saying that women should be encouraged to participate in these fields.