Feminists Met Against War, Conservatism, Nationalism and Heterosexism

Thursday, March 21, 2013
Feminists and LGBT people from the cities of Batman, Balıkesir, Mersin, İstanbul, Van, İzmir, Konya, Kayseri, Diyarbakır, Eskişehir and Malatya met in Ankara for the 2nd International Feminist Forum.
Along with feminists from Turkey, activists from Serbia, Albania, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia and Palestine also were present at the Forum.
The first day started with the Opening speech of Gülsüm Depeli, member of Kaos GL Advisory Board and the Media Communication Coordinator. The first forum was held by lesbian feminist anti-war activist from Serbia, Lepa Mladjenovic, with the title of “Sisterhood in us – Feminist lesbians together against militarism and nationalim”. Lepa spoke on self-love, international solidarity against bodily oppressions during war times and lesbian feminist voice against nationalism.
During the same panel, Yüksel Mutlu, the Deputy Co-Chairperson at Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), spoke on the sexist reflections of war on the lives of Kurdish women. Mutlu underlined the fact that all the participating people in the 4th Regional Network Against Homophobia meeting and the 2nd International Feminist Forum came from countries with previous or current border clashes and that we understand each other the most. Mutlu also stated that “War times hurt women the most. We always tell the stories of men after wars but nobody sees the sorrows in women.”
The second panel of the Feminist Forum was “Lesbian Feminist Forum” which started with the screening of 5 short movies, “Digital Stories”. The panel was held with the moderation of Nevin Öztop from Koas GL and the participation of lesbian feminists from Serbia, Albania, Tunisa and Algeria. The panelists spoke on the latest developments on the lives of LGBTs and women after the Tunisian revolution, the joint activism grounds for lesbians and women’s movement in Algeria, the radical lesbian groups against Serbia’s Church and nationalism and being a women and lesbian in today’s Albania.
The third panel of the day was “Labour Forum” in cooperation between Kaos GL and the Dutch organization TIE-Netherlands. Kaos GL’s lawyer Oya Aydın, Necla Akgökçe from Petrol-iş Women’s Magazine and Gülay Toksöz from Ankara University Labour Economics and Industrial Relations Department and Lili Brouwer from the Netherlands were the speakers of the panel.
Building International Allliances
On Sunday, “International Alliance Forum” started with the participation of Kholoud Bidak from Nazra Feminist Studies and Maha Youssef from Bedayaa LGBT Organization in Egypt and Hiba Abbani from KAFA (Enough) Violence & Exploitation in Lebanon. Discussions on women’s demands from the Constutituion and Civil Code in Lebanon, sexual assaults and rape crimes against women following the Egyptian uprisings and the role of women and LGBTs during the Egyptian Revolution took place.
The local Alliance Forum, moderated by İlknur Üstün, hosted the speakers Alev Özkazanç from Ankara University Women’s Studies Department, Zozan Özgökçe from Van Women’s Association and Mayor Ayşe Gökkan from Nusaybin Municipality.

Özkazanç did a summary of the history of women’s movement in the country. Gökkan spoke on the Kurdish women’s movement in Southest region and how this movement interacts with the feminist movement. Özgökçe spoke on the encounters that the women’s groups and LGBT individuals are experiencing in the city of Van.  

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