Featuring a woman on its currency for first time leads to debate in Turkey

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With the coming change in Turkey’s currency, there will be, for the first time in Turkish history, a picture of a woman — Fatma Aliye, Turkey’s first female novel writer — on a Turkish banknote, and this move has stirred fierce political and historical debates. …

Aliye, who was born in Ä°stanbul and, due to the circumstances of the times, was not sent to school, educated herself and learned French. She married when she was 17 and had four children. In order to start her literature career as a translator she had to wait for 10 years to get the permission of her husband. She signed her first translation, of “Volente” by George Ohnet, simply as “a lady.”

After 1891 she began to write novels in which she was critical of the oppression of women. She elaborated on love and the importance of the pre-marriage acquaintance of partners. Her heroines were strong, economically independent women. She regularly contributed to the private women’s magazine Hanımlara Mahsus and defended the rights of women, albeit within a traditional context. She was also the founder of Turkey’s first women’s association, established in 1897 and aimed at helping the families of soldiers.

Hülya Gülbahar of the Association for Education and Supporting Women Candidates (KA-DER), an association aimed at increasing female representation in politics, said there was no reason to discuss Aliye’s political ideas, adding that featuring a woman on a Turkish banknote for the first time in Turkish history is important in and of itself. “One of our slogans that we use frequently is ‘women exist.’ We are still trying to show the fact that we are here. In this regard, featuring a woman on the banknotes for the first time is something very positive,” she says.

According to Gülbahar, another positive part of featuring Aliye is to teach the people that the struggle for women’s rights is not new in Turkey. “It is important that it teaches that women’s struggle for their rights did not start after the founding of the republic. During the Ottoman Empire, women did a lot for their rights, too. But the official history tells us that the women’s struggle is something new,” she stressed, adding that Aliye was not alone in this struggle and that there were many other efforts and women.     …

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0 Responses to Featuring a woman on its currency for first time leads to debate in Turkey

  1. bob coley jr says:

    Although this comment is only slightly on point, I want to say it. I am so glad a woman, any woman, has been given a place of visable honor in Turkey. Puts them ahead of many countries that think themselves advanced. The off point part of this comment is about the interview with Queen Latifa, Dakota Fanning, and another young female star of the new movie “House of Bees”. When asked why they thought doing this movie was so important to them, the answer was this. “None of us were alive when this took place, we needed to experience what the struggle was like for those that made the oporttunity we now have in our lives possible.” Those that came before may not have been perfect, but one must not ever belittle their struggle and think that whatever one may acomplish today was done without the help of someone that came before. Empowerment is a group effort and is always evolving. The choice of who to honor does not interfere with the fact that progress is being made. Who gets the credit is secondary to the effort. Many people have many opinions as to who to honor. I’m glad to see honor go to the struggle since I have no idea who should be elevated above all others.