HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN (HREP)
When we first began our work as an independent women’s organisation in 1993, one of WWHR-New Ways’ first activities was to conduct a field research on women’s human right in Turkey and violence against women in Ankara, Istanbul, Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia (1994-1996). During the course of this research we came across the fact that women are unaware of the rights granted to them by the law. Another fact was that there was almost no women’s grassroots organising and networking other than those in the big cities of Turkey. Research has confirmed that women’s lives in Turkey are shaped by patriarchal practices, traditions and customs that govern all social zones, rather than the legal rights obtained on paper. Additionally, the patriarchal practices did not take into consideration the needs and the expectations of women, including sexual and reproductive rights. The Human Rights Education Program for Women (HREP) was developed in 1995 by WWHR-New Ways to meet the needs outlined in this context as a non-formal holistic human rights training to equip women with necessary knowledge and skills towards the full enjoyment of their human rights and mobilization around their own needs towards social change and democratization as free and equal individuals.
HREP has been implemented in the field on an on-going basis since 1995, and as a result of this uninterrupted implementation has nation-wide outreach reached over 7500 women in 42 provinces located throughout all seven geographical regions of Turkey up to date. The actual outreach, however, is much wider than the number of participants, considering that each participant becomes a resource person within her community on women’s human rights, and also given the concerted focus of the program on facilitating the emergence of grassroots organisations working to advocate women’s human rights at the local level.
Since 1998, the program has been implemented in collaboration with a State Agency, the General Directorate of Social Services (GDSS) in Community Centers throughout Turkey. Community Centers are typically located at socio-economically disadvantaged districts of provinces receiving heavy internal migration. A unique example of successful and sustainable NGO-state collaboration in Turkey, HREP was recently chosen as a “best tactic” in the international “New Tactics in Human Rights” project coordinated by the Center for Victims of Torture (USA) and the Helsinki Citizens Assembly (Turkey). Click here for the HREP tactical notebook prepared within the scope of the project.
The program consisting of participatory group workshops is implemented in partnership with GDSS in two phases. In the first phase, WWHR-New Ways provides trainer training to the social workers in charge of the Community Centers of SHCEK, who then start to implement the education with women’s groups at the local level. In the second phase, the 16 module program is conducted through weekly 3-4 workshops over the course of 4 months. WWHR-New Ways provides supervision and monitoring to the trainers, supplies training materials, and organizes strategic planning and evaluation meetings with the trainers, as well as networking and capacity building activities with leaders of the grassroots organizing initiatives emerging from the program. The education utilizes an extensive collection of training materials developed by WWHR-New Ways, entailing illustrated brochures for low literacy groups on selected women’s human rights issues, documentaries, action-research articles, a 330-page trainer manual, and an independent program evaluation report among others.
HREP entails 16 workshops on numerous topics:
- Introductry Session and Needs Assessment
- Human Rights and Women’s Human Rights
- Constitutional and Civil Rights
- Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- Strategies against Violence
- Women′s Economic Rights - Section 1
- Women’s Economic Rights –Section 2
- Communication Skills –Section 1
- Communication Skills –Section 2
- Gender Sensitive Parenting and Rights of the Child
- Women and Sexuality –Section 1
- Women and Sexuality –Section 2
- Reproductive Rights
- Women and Politics
- Feminism and the Women’s Movement
- Women’s Grassroots Organizing
The Human Rights Education Program for Women (HREP) remains to be the most widespread, sustainable and comprehensive non-formal human rights education program in Turkey. One of the most distinctive features of HREP is that the program is not implemented in a vacuum, and while participants change and gain awareness of their rights on the individual level, they also become active agents in advocacy efforts and organize on the local and national levels. The program is designed as a tool for women to devise their own strategies to realize their rights, while also becoming active agents for social change. The map below shows the locations that HREP has reached in Turkey:
According to the External Evaluation Research on HREP conducted by an independent research team, the impact of HREP on participants is:
- 93% of them have improved their self-confidence;
- 63% have stopped domestic violence while 22% have reduced it;
- 88% became resource people in their communities;
- 74% started participating more equally in decision-making in the family;
- 43% started participating actively in the labor market;
- 72% their husband’s attitude and behaviour towards them changed positively;
- 54% restarted their interrupted formal or non formal education;
- 90% gained knowledge on their political, civil and economic rights.
The study also finds that the women have become more active participants in the public sphere through participation in local government, advocacy campaigns, undertaking of initiatives such as organizing meetings/conferences, opening sales stands at local bazaars, setting up of businesses and so on. After participating in HREP, women in Ankara, Antalya, Aydin, Canakkale, Diyarbakir, Edirne, Istanbul (Gazi, Okmeydani, Umraniye), Izmir, Izmit, Samsun and Van have mobilized to initiate indedenpent grassroots women’s organizing initiatives around their own needs. Click here to read the Evaluation Report.