Child Labor in Turkey
Child labor in Turkey continues as both an international and domestic issue for the country. Despite Turkish and international community efforts to establish policies and initiatives to prevent child labor and protect the interests of children, child labor persists. The below facts highlight the details of the type of labor children typically perform as well as the efforts the government of Turkey has made to end child labor.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Turkey

  1. Work in Hazelnut Fields: Hazelnut production in Turkey is the largest sector of agricultural production, making up approximately 20 percent of Turkey’s agricultural exports. For this reason, many migrant agricultural workers travel along the eastern and western regions of Turkey looking for work during the hazelnut harvesting season. The children of these workers travel with their families and also contribute to the harvest of hazelnuts in Turkey. In 2017, nearly 800,000 children worked in the hazelnut fields. Most children work 11 hour days, seven days a week in the fields.
  2. The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking: The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking is an existing program in Turkey. This program identifies and protects both the victims of child trafficking as well as those children who are at high-risk for trafficking, such as the children of migrant agricultural workers. The high-risk children this program identified are the recipients of additional security precautions that the shelters took in. Victims of human trafficking frequently become migrant agricultural workers.
  3. Children of Syrian Refugees are High-Risk: As the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey continues to grow, so does the number of Syrian families working as migrant agricultural workers. Due to their status within the country of Turkey, many of these laborers work longer hours than those of the Turkish migrant workers and receive lower wages, with children oftentimes earning half of an adult’s wage. The children of the Syrian refugees are at an even higher risk of becoming permanently part of the sector of migrant labor due to lower access to education, discrimination and financial barriers.
  4. Efforts of the Turkish Government to Eradicate Child Labor: The Turkish government has made efforts to combat the high levels of child labor with a variety of government-funded programs. The Conditional Education and Health Care Assistance Program “aims to reduce poverty through cash transfers,” which takes the form of free milk and books given to primary school children. In 2017, approximately 190,000 children benefited from this program. By providing food and educational support, the Turkish government aims to create a learning environment for children where their families feel that they can afford the time for their children to be in school instead of working to earn extra money.
  5. Child labor in Turkey Increased in 2018: Despite the sweeping measures that the Turkish government has taken to prevent and eventually put an end to child labor in Turkey, the number of child laborers saw a marked increase in 2018. The Turkish government made a commitment to the International Labor Organization (ILO) that it would put an end to child labor by 2015, but that has not been the case thus far.
  6. Education Rates of Child Laborers: Due to the long hours that child laborers in Turkey work, they are unable to consistently attend schools in the areas where they work on hazelnut farms. The children also move around too frequently with their families to establish a lasting record at any one school, contributing to these children’s decreased likelihood of school attendance. In addition, the vocational schools that exist in areas that have heavy industry provide an education to children that promotes their continued work in the industrial sphere.
  7. Minimum Age for Child Labor: Turkey has existing laws in place that are to protect children from child labor. There is a minimum age requirement of 15 for agricultural work and a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work. A prohibition of forced labor and child trafficking also currently exists in Turkey. Despite the efforts of the government of Turkey, holes continue to exist in the legal framework that aims to protect children from hazardous child labor.
  8. Effective Enforcement of Existing Child Labor Laws: Though the Turkish government has age limits in place for child labor, as well as a list of light work that the Regulation on the Principles and Procedures Governing the Employment of Children and Young Workers permits, high levels of child labor in Turkey persist. Part of this gap in the legislation and actual protection of child laborers is due in part to the low numbers of inspectors and the classification of agricultural work as light labor. The Regulation on Principles has indicated that the country must legally consider picking fruit and vegetables as light work, therefore placing very few restrictions on migratory agriculture. Despite this, the gaps that exist in the legal framework “may hinder adequate enforcement of [Turkey’s] child labor laws.”
  9. National Program to Combat Child Labor in Turkey: The government of Turkey has made an effort to maintain compliance with international child labor laws. The National Program to Combat Child Labor began in 2017 and is to run until 2023. This program focuses on maintaining surveillance of the labor sectors of migratory agriculture, street work and work performed in small to medium industries to ensure that none of Turkey’s existing child labor laws are in violation.
  10. The Global March Against Child Labour: There are multiple NGOs in the international sphere that are fighting to end child labor worldwide. The Global March Against Child Labour is one such organization with a mission is to “mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free and meaningful education and the right to be free from economic exploitation.” Global March operates through the advocacy of issues to policymakers, raising awareness of child labor around the world and building partnerships with existing organizations such as the International Labour Organization. The Global March has seen success in many of its areas of focus. In 2018, Global March organized the Meet of Parliamentarians Without Borders for Children’s Rights in Brussels, Belgium. At the conclusion of the parliament, in which MPs from Sri Lanka, Benin, Togo, Paraguay, Uganda, Ghana, the Netherlands and Costa Rica attended, all MPs committed to working within their respective parliaments to end child labor in their countries.

Turkey still requires progress to put an end to dangerous and damaging child labor, but the steps that it has made in its own programs, as well as international programs, shows hope for a future for child labor in Turkey. That future includes stronger protection of a child’s right to receive an education and lead a stable life out of the fields.

– Anne Pietrow
Photo: Flickr

Helping Syrian Refugees After Arriving
The Syrian refugee crisis has been ongoing for more than eight years since the civil war that started in 2011. More than 5 million people have fled Syria, while many more were displaced within Syria itself. Externally, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have the highest proportion of Syrian refugees in the world. Since refugees often try to live in urban areas for better employment opportunities, they frequently struggle with financial resources and end up living below the poverty line. In response, domestic and international organizations are helping Syrian refugees after arriving in each of these three countries.

Lebanon

As of June 30, 2016, Lebanon had the most Syrian refugees relative to its population, which was about 173 refugees per 1,000 people, or a total of 1,035,700. Lebanon also hosts a high number of refugees compared to its GDP, equating to 20 refugees per $1 million in GDP. While Lebanon hosts a large number of refugees, it is struggling to provide for them. There are around a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 70 percent of whom live below the poverty line. These refugees often have little to no financial resources, which leads them to live in crowded homes with other families in more than 2,100 communities.

One organization helping Syrian refugees in the country is the Lebanese Association for Development and Communication (LADC), which emerged to help both Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Its projects range from community-based projects to aid projects with both local and more than 500 international volunteers helping to establish more than 6,500 beneficiaries. One of its projects was the Paradise Wall, a community art project to smooth the integration process between 120 Syrian and Lebanese children by asking them to work together creatively to produce a wall full of designs.

Turkey

Turkey hosts the largest number of registered Syrian refugees – currently at 3.3 million. Authorities claim that there are more than 3 million Syrian refugees, but that they have not registered. This is because they see Turkey as a transit country or fear deportation. The fear of deportation comes from the fact that Turkey offers temporary protection status to Syrians instead of internationally-recognized refugee status. This increases the likelihood of Turkey deporting the refugees while avoiding the risk of receiving international renouncement for doing so. Most refugees attempt to settle in urban areas in these countries, as opposed to refugee camps where only 8 percent of registered Syrian refugees live.

In Turkey, the UNCHR, EU and WHO have come together to fund the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), which is a multi-regional organization that does a wide variety of work to help Syrian refugees after arriving in Turkey. It has many projects ranging from legal counseling to psycho-social support for children through playful activities. One of its projects titled Women and Girls’ Safe Space emerged to offer training sessions on women’s reproductive health.

Jordan

Jordan is proportionally the second-largest host of the Syrian refugees, sheltering about 89 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants as of 2016. Fifty-one percent of these refugees are children and 4 percent are elderly, meaning that 55 percent are dependents who rely on the remaining 45 percent of adult, working-age Syrian refugees. Consequently, more than 80 percent of them live under the poverty line.

To deal with this, the Jordanian government has initialized formal processes to help them escape poverty. In 2017 alone, the country issued 46,000 work permits so that Syrian refugees work. Recently, in collaboration with UNHCR, the International Labor Organization (ILO) established an employment center, The Zaatari Office of Employment, in the biggest camp for Syrian refugees. By August 2017, around 800 refugees benefited from this center by registering official work permits in place of one-month leave permits.

While the Syrian refugee crisis is still ongoing, it is important to note that many are helping Syrian refugees to settle and integrate into their host societies. Many countries from all over the world are starting to resettle the refugees within their borders to lift off the burden of poverty and overcrowding in certain areas. People often recognize Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey for their willingness to take in large numbers of Syrian refugees, but this must not erase the work a variety of organizations are doing to help refugees after arriving in their new homes.

Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

Girls Education in Turkey
The Turkish education system is not much different from that of the U.S; the state governs education, which is mandatory for 12 years and is free. Students may choose to pursue further education at university with more than 70 universities in Turkey to choose from. However, despite how similar it may appear on the surface, girls education in Turkey is still unequal to their male counterparts.

10 Facts About Girls Education in Turkey

  1. Education is currently the biggest item on Turkey’s government budget. The Turkish Statistical Agency reports that direct and indirect expenses on education have increased by 54 percent between 2011 and 2014 sitting at 113.6 billion liras ($31.4 billion). Of note, education spending as part of Turkey’s overall budget increased by one-third from 8.5 percent to 12.4 percent.
  2. While the female literacy rate has risen to 93.56 percent and the male literacy rate is 98.78 percent, it is not an accurate percentage of the girls throughout Turkey. About 45 percent of girls 15 and under remain illiterate in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions and women account for two-thirds of adults without basic literacy skills.
  3. Sixteen million girls in Turkey will never set foot in a classroom for a multitude of reasons such as poverty, geographical information, pregnancy, gender-based violence and traditional attitudes of the role of a woman.
  4. The lack of a push for girlseducation in Turkey has led to a consistent number of only 39 percent of women being in the labor force for almost three decades. Girls’ families consistently discourage them from continuing school and the girls receive pressure to become homemakers. With little support in their home life, girls follow the life that their parents lead and do not choose to further their education.
  5. Turkey ranks 130 out of 149 on the gender gap index. The gender gap index reports on the gender gap in the economy, education, health and politics. The large gap that Turkey holds in the global index continues to show that women in Turkey face some of the biggest inequalities in the world based on a multitude of measurements.
  6. Since 2009, the male to female enrollment ratio for universities in Turkey increased from 12 percent to 14 percent, and since 2005, graduation rates for college students have increased by 170 percent. While attainment levels remain low, only 18 percent of 25 to 64-year-olds have any higher education so the increase in girls’ higher level education in Turkey remains hopeful.
  7. Fifteen percent of girls under the age of 18 in Turkey enter into forced marriages. Child marriage can be driven by gender inequality, gender norms, poor birth registrations, displacement and violence. When girls become child brides, they are less likely to continue with school and more likely to stay at home and become homemakers.
  8. With the Syrian crisis, the longer refugees are living in poverty, the more likely they are to marry off their daughters to Turkish men. This then leads to girls in Turkey not being able to further their education.
  9. With goal 5 of the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Turkey has committed to eliminating child, early and forced marriages in the next decade. During the 2015 Universal Periodic Review, the government-supported policy recommendations to criminalize child marriage and take legislative and political action to bring an end to this archaic practice. This enhancement in eliminating forced childhood marriages allows for more girls to further their education and have more choices in their life as they go into adulthood.
  10. Turkey’s involvement in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also includes its aim to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Goal 4 of the agenda includes seven targets including universal primary and secondary education, universal youth literacy and gender equality and inclusion. Turkey’s participation in the agenda is a step forward in the fight to develop girls education in Turkey.

There is a multitude of initiatives in Turkey other than the Turkish government that intends to reduce inequality in the education system. CYDD, a nonprofit fighting for girls’ education in Turkey, has awarded over 100,000 scholarships and created over 50 schools. These 10 facts about girls’ education in Turkey show the issues that are prevalent, but also the ways in which Turkey is addressing them. The initiatives of nonprofits and the government have bettered girls education in Turkey, but Turkey needs other improvements to further bridge the gap.

– Alexia Carvajalino
Photo: Unsplash

Health Care Reform in Turkey
In a very revolutionary move, Turkey has made cancer treatment essentially accessible for all. Labour and Social Security Minister Jülide Sarıeroğlu announced in a written statement that the country has abolished all extra fees that were charged in treatment, surgery and medication of cancer.

This new shift in policy is part of a longstanding effort to improve health care in Turkey and make health care coverage available for all, particularly the nation’s poor.

Universal Health Care in Turkey

The policy was approved earlier this year and shows further commitment to universal health care in Turkey. Sarıeroğlu added that Turkey will continue to make improvements to its health care system regardless of costs.

The impact this will have on the population is significant as 20 percent of deaths in Turkey are caused by cancer and 450 individuals are diagnosed with cancer on a daily basis, totaling to approximately 164,000 cases every year. As part of the shift, the government also increased cancer treatment payments in private hospitals by 200 percent for those with social benefits.

The Labour and Social Security minister has additionally committed to improving the conditions of public health care providers and state universities. Lastly, to avoid overcrowding, hospitals owned by the Health Ministry and the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Institution) were merged.

The History of Health Care in Turkey

In 2002, Turkey’s health care system was riddled with inefficiencies. The country’s allocation towards cancer treatment was a paltry 3 percent in overall spending. The infant mortality rate was at 26.1 per 1,000 live births, and two-thirds of the population had no access to health insurance.

With the support of the World Bank Group, the Health Transformation Programme was initiated. The programme’s main goal was to overhaul the previous health care infrastructure and equalize access to health facilities in rural and urban areas alike. Along with addressing systemic regional imbalances, the World Bank has helped Turkey confront non-communicable diseases, including but not limited to cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Reform of the Health Care in Turkey

Since the implementation of better and more comprehensive health care in Turkey, the citizens of the country have seen an increase in insurance coverage from 2.4 million people in 2003 to 10.2 million people in 2011. Coverage specifically for Turkey’s poorest decile jumped from 24 percent in 2003 to 85 percent in 2011. The enhanced financial protection provided by insurance has reduced the relative number of out-of-pocket payments, especially for lowest-income households, subsequently leading to a decline in exorbitant health expenditures.

Furthermore, life expectancy at birth is now close to the average level proposed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). An average Turkish newborn in 2014 has the chance to live 6 years longer than a Turkish baby born in 2002. This is an increase from 71.9 to 77.7 years. Only 39 percent of the population was content with health services in 2003, whereas 2011 saw satisfaction bloom to 75.9 percent.

This upward trajectory of health care in Turkey has validated the optimism of citizens looking forward to universal health care. The country’s existing hospitals are experiencing a reformation period and 500 new hospitals have opened in recent years. In her written statement, Jülide Sarıeroğlu assured that there are more improvements to come in the future period.

Yumi Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Turkey

Turkey is a country where a great deal of misinformation exists online. There have been many ups and downs in the country’s agenda lately, and gathering the top 10 facts about living conditions in Turkey is difficult due to the massive instability of continuous changes. Here are the top facts about living conditions in Turkey.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Turkey

  1. According to the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), Turkey ranks at 71. The UNDP’s HDI is an indicator of many dynamics concerning the quality of living conditions all around the world. The dynamics that HDI focus on are primarily health, education, income, gender and human security. Turkey has been increasing its HDI since 1990, but the rate of increase has declined since 2010.
  2. Fifty-one percent of the Turkish people between the ages of 15 to 64 have a paid job. The statistics of OECD states that 51 percent of the Turkish people aged between 15 to 64 have a paid job. Unfortunately, this rate of 51 percent is below the average of OECD countries by 16 percent. Another important issue is that of income inequality. Most people either experience a problem of unfair income distribution or an unjust necessity of working hours; today, the minimum wage in Turkey is approximately 1600 Turkish lira, or $260.
  3. Sixty-three percent of the people state they are satisfied with the quality of their water. Unlike most U.S. and European cities, drinking the tap water is not the preferable option in Turkey. The current government took steps in order to increase the quality of the water in the country, and their efforts have shown distinctive progress. Even though the image looks brighter compared to years ago, there is still a need for further steps in order to satisfy the living condition of water quality.
  4. Trying to understand the living conditions in Turkey by taking a look at Istanbul is often inaccurate. Cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa and İzmir stand considerably higher in the quality of life index. Overall, these cities offer better living conditions to individuals than in Turkey, which can cause internal migration from time-to-time.
  5. The lack of political stability in the country affects living conditions. Over the years, the political arena of the country has witnessed the competing interest of political parties of the left and the right wing, and the country faced a deadly coup attempt in July 2016. The unstable political arena affects various dynamics that directly impact the living conditions of the Turkish people.
  6. People work for extremely long hours to earn money. According to the better life index of OECD, almost 34 percent of people in Turkey work for inordinate amounts of time in Turkey.
  7. There are only four universities that ranked in the top 500 of Times Higher Education. Education quality is a problem that affects the living conditions of people living in Turkey. There has been a lack of equal spread of quality educations in all cities of the country. In fact, one often must live in a major city to receive a qualified, world-level education. According to Times Higher Education, there are only four Turkish universities listed in the global top 500: Koç, Sabancı, Bilkent and Boğaziçi.
  8. A weak social network between communities is a problem for the living conditions. Due to its geographical location, Turkey’s demographics are often influenced by European, Asian and Middle Eastern motifs. Rather than caused by ethical problems, the lack of social networks between communities are generally caused by the modernist and conservatism favoritism of specific groups of people. Even though Turkey is not an Islamic state, the majority of its people are Muslim and the country hosts a variety of Islamic practices with groups of distinct interests. As a result, there are places and times where religious interests and characteristics of people can work as a discriminating force in the society.
  9. Taxation is a massive problem in Turkey. The tax system in Turkey is a progressive one, and citizens generally pay 15 to 35 percent tax on their employment income. The main problem of Turkey’s taxation system is that the tax rates of products in markets are sometimes more than the item being bought. Today, the tax problem is highly visible, especially on imported products.
  10. The historical and cultural environment in the country is vibrant. Overall, Turkey is still a safe and sound place to live; every city has some cultural and historical beauty to astound and fascinate its visitors and residents. Starting with Istanbul’s amazing scenery, rich architecture and cultural habitat, the country still has its own way of providing a satisfying living standard.

Fostering Satisfaction

Despite Turkey’s struggles, many of the nation’s inhabitants are satisfied with their ways of life. The nation still has far to go for complete equality of living standards, but with fiscal, social, and economic changes, the nation can continue to steadily improve its inhabitants’ lives.

– Orçun Doğmazer

Photo: Pixabay

10 Contributors to Turkey’s Rising Economy

Turkey has one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. Turkey’s rising economy came after the economic and banking crisis that occurred in 2001. Turkey’s economy is growing and will continue to improve over the next several years. The following are 10 aspects that have contributed to the Turkish economy’s growth:

  1. Trade With Africa
    Over the past 15 years, Turkish and African trading has increased over 600 percent to over $17 billion USD. Trading with Africa has brought a substantial amount of money into Turkey and has created countless jobs for the country’s rising economy.
  1. Turkish Airlines and Boeing Deal
    Turkish Airlines has made a deal with Boeing to purchase 25 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, which will help Turkey meet demand in their country. M. İlker Aycı, Turkish Airlines’ Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, said, “We are pleased to finalize a landmark agreement that will bring significant benefit to Turkish Airlines and Turkey’s aviation industry.”
  1. Middle Class Growth
    In the past several years, the size of Turkey’s middle class has doubled; it increased from 18 percent to just over 40 percent. This is one of the biggest contributors to Turkey’s rising economy. The growth of the middle class has helped Turkey strive toward becoming an upper-middle income economy.
  1. Growing Tourism
    In the past decade, travel to Turkey has increased tremendously. In 2017 Turkey was ranked the sixth most-visited country and was ranked ninth in income from tourism. Turkey is most visited by Europeans, and tourists frequently visit Antalya, Istanbul and Mugla. These areas make up 70 percent of the places visited in Turkey.
  1. Privatization
    The government of Turkey has been attempting to privatize many sectors in the country. They aim to limit the role of the government to health, education, social security, national defense, and infrastructure. Increasing the size of the private sector has created a highly competitive market that has improved Turkey’s economy. From 1986 to 2003, the revenue for privatization reached only $8 billion; by contrast, revenue from 2004 to 2015 reached approximately $58 billion. In addition to creating a competitive market, privatization has created many jobs throughout the country.
  1. Employment Increase
    1.5 million more people became employed from November 2016 to November 2017 in Turkey, and the labor participation rate of women increased to 33.8 percent. The unemployment rate for the youth in Turkey also decreased by 3.3 percent. This job growth has stimulated the economy and contributed to its growth.
  1. The Turkey Sustainable Cities Program
    The Sustainable Cities program consists of two parts. The first part was approved in 2016, and the second was approved in April of 2018. These programs provide investment financing and technical assistance. The investment financing is used for public projects such as municipalities for water, wastewater, solid waste, energy efficiency and street lighting. The goal of this program is to improve the economic, financial, environmental, and sustainability aspects of cities in Turkey. This will improve Turkish cities while also providing jobs for many people in Turkey.
  1. Increasing Foreign Trade
    Turkey’s exports have continued to increase over the past few years, and the increase is estimated to continue. In 2016, Turkey’s exports totaled $143 billion, and exports are estimated to reach $193 billion by the year 2019.
  1. Contracting Abroad
    The construction sector in Turkey is one of the biggest in the world, just after China. The first foreign project took place in the 1970s, but such projects have increased greatly since then. From 2008 to 2017, Turkey engaged in more than 4,000 construction jobs abroad, equal to approximately $220 billion. This nine-year period accounts for 64 percent of all foreign contracting jobs taken by Turkey in 45 years. The cost of these projects has also increased. In 2008, the average project cost $37 million, but by 2017 this average had risen to roughly $79 million. Contracting abroad has greatly increased jobs and contributed to the rising economy in Turkey.
  1. Rapid Growth
    In 2017, the Turkish economy grew by 7.4 percent, meaning it expanded faster than both India and China. Turkey’s economy was ranked as the fastest-growing economy in the group of G-20 nations.

There are still many improvements to be made throughout the country. However, Turkey’s rising economy shows that the country has made great strides toward becoming an upper-middle income country. The people of Turkey have successfully reduced poverty, decreased unemployment and increased the overall living conditions in their country.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

Amber HeardAmber Heard is a model and actress who has dedicated her career to being more than just a “pretty face.” She is best known for her roles in Zombieland (2009), The Stepfather (2009) and The Danish Girl (2015). Heard was also featured in The Justice League (2017) as Mera, a role which she will be reprising in the upcoming Aquaman film.

The actress has always been a strong advocate for the importance of charity work and helping those who are in need. Now, through a lot of time and dedication, Amber Heard is helping Syrian refugees that need medical attention by partnering with The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).

The Syrian American Medical Society

SAMS is an organization that provides medical relief to Syrian refugees by working on the front lines. The non-governmental organization (NGO) prides itself on being one of the most active and trusted organizations on the ground in Syria. Its main goal is to provide medical care to every patient who needs it.

SAMS is dedicated to providing these medical services all while promoting medical education in Syria with the assistance of hard-working humanitarians from around the globe. Its vision is to strengthen the medical community for Syria’s future. In 2017 alone, SAMS worked to provide more than 3.5 million health services to vulnerable populations, serving patients regardless of religious affiliation, race, ethnicity or political affiliation.

SAMS primarily operates in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey where it has provided support to 110 medical facilities and over 3,000 personnel. Now, its programs are quickly expanding to other countries that are facing extreme poverty. For example, in 2016, it launched SAMS Global Response (SGR) to address the medical needs of vulnerable populations in Greece.

In 2017, SAMS expanded its operation to Egypt and Bangladesh where it set up to meet the increasing medical needs of those who have no access to health care. SAMS does what is called “medical missions” where it brings in skilled health professionals from around the world to provide life-saving care free of charge.    

SAMS is a leader for advocacy and works closely with policymakers both within the United States and on the global level. It advocates increasing political action to help end the crisis in Syria and allow for the voices of its workers on the ground who continue to risk their safety to save the lives of the vulnerable. It advocates for:

  • Protection of medical facilities, healthcare workers and civilians
  • Provisions for access to trapped civilians
  • Increasing involvement of NGOs in decision-making
  • Support for both Syrian refugees and host communities

Amber Heard Is Helping Syrian Refugees

SAMS asked Amber Heard to join its crew on a medical mission to help assist with the 660,000 displaced Syrians in a camp. “My biggest takeaway from this trip is the indelible mark left on my soul after spending a week on the ground here…” Heard spent a week in Jordan with SAMS to visit one of the largest camps for Syrian refugees, which also doubles as a rehabilitation center for those who have been injured.  

Amber Heard is helping Syrian refugees by starting a fundraising campaign. During her trip to Jordan, Heard met a 12-year-old girl named Weam, who is in desperate need of medical assistance. She suffers from a disease called thalassemia, which means she needs blood transfusions every 20 days. This is an expense her family simply cannot afford. Weam had been receiving treatments from an NGO; unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the treatment had to stop. There are 12 more children that have to live with this disease who also need help.  

Amber Heard is helping Syrian refugees by partnering with SAMS to offer a trip to the Aquaman premiere as well as a meet and greet with Heard and her co-star Jason Momoa. The money raised will be used to help treat the 12 children suffering from thalassemia in Jordan.

Amber Heard is using her influence to raise awareness of the important work being done by SAMS. With her fundraiser, 12 children will get the blood transfusions they need to fight thalassemia. Medical attention for Syrian refugees is an important cause, and thanks to people like Amber Heard and organization like SAMS, some of the suffering that these refugees are experiencing can be lessened.

– Olivia Hodges

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in AnatoliaAnatolia is known as the Asian side of Turkey. Communities in Anatolia generally engage in a rural way of living where, most of the times, dynamics like globalization and technology are not the primary driving forces. Anatolia has been dealing with the issue of gender inequality in education, and there are many questions about girls’ education in this part of Turkey.

Reasons Behind the Gender Gap in Education

The gender gap that exists in Anatolia has not only existed in the workforce but has also translated to education in the region as well. Due to several different reasons, the people of Anatolia used to wish for their daughters to stay home and do domestic chores but, on the other hand, were motivated to send boys to school. That kind of behavior was a result of several barriers: lack of classrooms and schools, the distance of the school, the economic situation of families, early marriages problem and lack of female role models in Anatolia.

As the government was focused on decreasing the gender gap in education, the officials came up with a new program in 2004 that opened a door to many other programs and establishments related to this problem. Soon, the bad image of the situation was fixed with the help of different participants and the government taking effective steps to overcome the issue of the gender gap in the education of Anatolia.

Off to School, Girls!

One of the most impactful campaigns that was organized by the Minister of National Education and supported by UNICEF was Haydi Kızlar Okula! (Off to school, girls!). The campaign was very effective and became one of the first steps in the process of changing girls’ education in Anatolia.

The goal of Haydi Kızlar Okula! was to close the gender gap in 53 provinces that had the lowest enrollment rates of girls in schools in Anatolia by the end of 2005. The campaign did not only enable a sustainable social mobilization of the communities but also solved the issue of a lack of available schools and classrooms in different districts.

The campaign itself was a collective effort of many participants and institutions fulfilling their responsibilities for girls’ education in Anatolia. The government of Turkey might seem like the main organizer of the program but many other companies and organizations were also involved. Nationwide TV channels voluntarily contributed to the program in terms of spreading the news, and Coca-Cola provided free publicity.

The contribution of the campaign in solving the problem with girls’ school enrollment was remarkable because it increased the number of girls in primary schools immediately. According to 2010 data shared by the Ministry of National Education in Turkey, the number of the girls in schools in 10 provinces was 10 by the end of 2003. This number was increased to 33 provinces and 73.2 girls by the end of 2004 and then up to 53 provinces and 62.251 girls by the end of 2005. It should be highlighted that a total of 239.112 girls attended primary school as a direct result of Haydi Kızlar Okula!

Haydi Kızlar Okula! might seem off-topic to the revolutionary decrease of the gender gap in Anatolia today due to the fact that it happened in the early 2000s, but it is considered the first of many other campaigns that solved the issue of the educational gender gap in Anatolia.

– Orçun Doğmazer
Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in ankara
With a population of approximately 5.2 million people, Turkey’s capital city of Ankara is the nation’s second-largest city after Istanbul. Originally planned to hold only around 500,000 people, the urban center has continued to see a high rate of population growth. The city saw a population increase of 6.7 percent between 2014 and 2015 and an overall population increase of 290,000 since 2015.

As more people began moving into the city for job opportunities and a higher quality of life, housing became an issue, especially during the massive growth of the 1950s. The influx of inhabitants outpaced the construction of housing. This issue inevitably led to the building of illegal houses, public housing, compounds and eventually a higher rise in poverty. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Ankara.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Ankara

  1. After the population boom of the 1950s, 59 percent of the population of Ankara were living in ‘gecekondu,’ or slum houses, by the late 1960s.
  2. In the Central Anatolia region, where the city of Ankara sits, more than 32 percent of households live in poverty.
  3. More than 26 percent of individuals living in the region live under the poverty line.
  4. Women living in poor households were found to be the most exposed to the effects of poverty from a study conducted in the squatter areas of Ankara.
  5. In poorer neighborhoods, some of these women’s burden was alleviated by transferring it to their daughters.
  6. More than 10 percent of the region is illiterate.
  7. Ankara makes up for 8.63 percent of the national GDP.
  8. Ankara exports very little to Asia or Latin America even though they are the fastest-growing economies in the world.
  9. In 2014, Ankara was found as having the highest annual average equalized household disposable income.
  10. As Turkey continues to expose itself to an over-dependence on investors, Ankara has become a “hostage of its own image as an economically successful state with a stable socio-political system.” Should the country see any changes to this, it would cause capital to leave and an increase in the cost of external debt.

Investing in Ankara

In 2018, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan introduced a series of measures, including tax changes and an increase in the government’s Credit Guarantee Fund, which backs loans to smaller businesses. Erdogan is a self-described “enemy of interest rates” and wants the central bank to lower interest rates. He has commented that he plans to take greater control of the economy to increase and speed up growth.

As Ankara, and Turkey overall, debates and continue to look for solutions to alleviate poverty and grow its economy, one such idea remains at the forefront. During Erdogan’s 2014 presidential campaign, he announced Turkey’s 2023 vision.

Vision For Progress

Called “one of the most important economic project[s] going on in this century,” this plan focuses on six main points. Through concentrated efforts on economics, health care, tourism, transportation, energy and foreign policy, Turkey aims to remake its economic “face” by the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Ankara are being assessed and alleviated through this very ambitious vision. This project will not only help lift the Turkish people but will also greatly benefit the Arab world.

Increases in the volume of trade between Turkey and other Arab nations, specifically Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, will ease relations between the Turks and Saudis, which could lead to an alliance. Addressing these facts about poverty in Ankara may be the answer alleviating regional tensions.

– Aaron Stein
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Istanbul Turkey plays an important role geopolitically, and its most important city, Istanbul, bears the majority of that burden. The government in the only city that spans two continents is currently going through significant changes. Addressing poverty in Istanbul is now at the top of the to-do list. Below are 10 facts about poverty in Istanbul that will illuminate some of the issues that plague the region and megacities across the world, and will provide some insight into the best ways of tackling them.

Facts About Poverty in Istanbul

  1. The number of people living below the poverty line in Istanbul has never been smaller. Over the past 10 years, the share of the population living on less than $4 a day has fallen from more than 20 million to just 1.7 million.
  2. The expanding difference between the rich and poor is a global issue and is one of the most commonly referenced facts about poverty in Istanbul. The Ministry of Development released data indicating that while the wealthiest 20 percent used to make 9.59 times what the poorest 20 percent did, that number has fallen to 7.96. This shows that poverty in Istanbul is being addressed by the shrinking the number of impoverished people and by closing the gap between the rich and poor.
  3. The lack of urban planning has perpetuated the realities of many facts about poverty in Istanbul. Much of Istanbul’s impoverished population resides in shanty towns, or gecekondu. More than 70 percent of the city’s housing has been built in the past 30 years. Over the same period, the population more than doubled. This has created problems with development as the government razes these properties to give way to larger projects, causing many forced evictions of the city’s most vulnerable populations.
  4. While poverty in Istanbul is a major concern, the city is doing much better than the rest of the country. This is problematic for the nation as a whole, as Istanbul residents on average make almost three times more than citizens in the more impoverished southeastern region.
  5. A significant cause for concern illustrated by these facts about poverty in Istanbul are the more than 500,000 Syrian refugees that call Istanbul home. To help reduce poverty among the refugees, Turkey has allowed them to live and work where they please, rather than being subjected to the often brutal conditions of refugee camps. Syrians can move freely throughout the city, and municipal governments have built schools that follow a Syrian curriculum, soup kitchens and even Beyaz Masalar, which are community centers that provide a venue for the Syrians to voice their needs and concerns.
  6. All is not great for children in Istanbul, however. More than 40,000 children are forced to work on the streets, many of whom are migrant children.
  7. Turkey’s football clubs are helping. Partnered with the UNDP, one of Turkey’s most famous football clubs, Galatasaray, pledged to raise funds for programs that fight poverty, inequality and exclusion.
  8. The country is tackling illiteracy as a way to bridge the gap. Literacy has been an important issue in Turkey since its modern inception in 1928. Nationwide. more than 3.8 million Turks cannot read or write. To address this issue, the organization ACEV started in Istanbul with three principles: “ (1) Equal opportunity in education for all; (2) Learning is a lifelong process that must begin in early childhood; (3) The child, as well as his or her immediate caregivers, must be educated and supported.” More than 125,000 people have learned to read with the assistance of this program.
  9. The government sponsors women’s literacy programs to address gender inequality. Access to education for women has long been an issue for Turkey. According to UNESCO, 9.7 percent of women could not read in 2014, compared to just 2.1 percent of men. As a result, President Erdogan and his wife Emine launched a female literacy campaign with the hopes of giving women greater access to the professional market, as well as providing greater independence throughout their everyday lives.
  10. When analyzing poverty in Turkey as a whole, poverty in Istanbul serves as a microcosm. Statistics regarding inclusion (or lack thereof) of minorities, women and immigrants mirror the rest of the country. However, the city and its superior economic resources and infrastructure provide a model that other cities can use when they look to address their poverty issues.

The economic situation for Turkey has been improving, but factors like the refugee crisis and urban-rural divide complicate it. Still, despite political tension within its borders, both sides of the aisle are putting a significant focus on the impoverished, citizen or not. Hopefully, countries in similar situations can look to Turkey and its handling of Istanbul as a model for poverty reduction.

– David Jaques

Photo: Google