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Turkish diplomat lauds government for empowering women

Turkey’s ambassador to South Africa praised her government Thursday for empowering women by giving them various opportunities, including representing their country abroad.

“I am very proud to announce that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has a very good bureaucratic record not only in Turkey, but I think worldwide in terms of figures of employing female ambassadors but also female high-level bureaucrats,” Elif Comoglu Ulgen told Anadolu Agency in the capital, Pretoria.

The Turkish embassy hosted over 30 female ambassadors and heads of missions accredited to South Africa for a lunch to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The diplomats discussed challenges facing women and how to empower them in their respective countries.

Ulgen, the first female ambassador to represent Turkey in South Africa, said 50 percent of her embassy staff consists of women.

According to statistics, 35 percent of the diplomats representing Turkey are women, 23 percent of them are ambassadors and 43 percent of ambassadorial candidates are females.

“Today, more than half of the Turkish academia are women, particularly in the sciences like medicine and pharmacology. The females outnumber the males,” she said.

Ulgen also used the opportunity to praise the South African government for its high standards of human rights and women’s representation in politics.

She said although Turkey does not have a political quota for women’s representation, the country’s women were among the first of their gender group in Europe to be granted political rights to elect office bearers or be elected as early as 1930.

Ulgen said this was mainly due to the new republic and former president Kemal Ataturk’s efforts towards women’s empowerment. She said Ataturk’s efforts continue to be followed in Turkey.

She noted, however, that although women have rights in Turkey, the struggle to empower women is a never-ending one globally.

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