19 Aralık 2020
The Localization of Feminism Conference that Havle Women’s Association organized on 19-20 December 2020 took place online due to the imperatives of the time. In a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has limited our daily lives and globalized our anxieties, we, as hundreds of women, got together through our phones and computers without ever getting tired. Right before the longest night, with such darkness fallen on our hearts, we were brightened up to see that even this much physical distance could accommodate such closeness. We were together with more than 300 women during those two days. Despite the distances between us, we experienced to the fullest the feeling that ‘we can move the mountains if we stand together’, which is the best part of the feminist get-togethers.
What has brought us together was a question we frequently asked ourselves and each other: How do we, the women who are alive, living in a certain place, and dealing with an array of problems each day, relate to feminism(s)? The lives and burdens of every one of us are different. Some of us take care of children, some take care of elderly, and some only take care of ourselves. The burdens of some stem from marriage, some from being single. Some of us are overwhelmed working outside home, some not being able to work. Some of us are discriminated against because of our mother-tongues, our faith, migration status, sexual orientation or skin color. There are some who experience discrimination because they are devout, and also some experiencing the same because they are not. There are some of us struggling with poverty as many as some who do not. To sum up, our problems are really diverse. However, in any case we search for the commonality lying beneath our problems. While doing that, we take inspiration from the analyses, findings and creative solutions that women all over the world have put forward. Consequently, whether we call ourselves feminists or not, we relate to feminism in one way or another.
That is precisely why we aimed to look at how we include feminism in our lives, how we converse and fight with it. With these in mind, we chose the theme of localization. For us, locality is not limited to villages, neighborhoods and not even to a homeland. What is local to us is sometimes a street, a country, sometimes inside a home and even our bodies. All these spaces are surrounded by laws, moral codes, norms, rules, rights and wrongs. What battles we, as women, give amidst all these? What do we negotiate and with whom, and how do we define our boundaries? How do we relate to other women in the meantime? What are the criteria that shape all these? Maybe our identities, attire, age, our status within the family, our citizenship status, our fertility…
We searched for the answers to these questions in the Localization of Feminism Conference with our lecturers and listeners from all over Turkey and far corners of the world. We talked about the story of feminism in Turkey, the possibility and productivity of Islamic feminism, what kind of work we do with feminism within the family, our experiences of giving birth and not giving birth, the extra challenges introduced with migration and our struggles for protecting our living spaces. We weaved our struggles together by stretching out thin threads from Nigeria to Malaysia, from Yırca to Diyarbakır, from Berlin to Istanbul.
We knew one thing very well while doing this: We are the lucky ones. We are the survivors while hundreds of women are killed by men in different places of the world every day, we are the ones who are still standing in spite of all we experienced until now, the ones who are not behind bars, the ones who find the strength in each other to resists against the ones threatening our bodies, labor and future. Every speech, every comment, every applause in the conference was a salute to the ones who cannot be next to us, so are the articles in this booklet.
With the hope that you remember the women who make us who we are,
Hilal Alkan, Feyza Akınerdem, Fatma Betül Demir, Burcu Kalpaklıoğlu
The first draft of this article, with the title “Introduction”, was presented on December 19, 2020, at the “Being an Immigrant Woman Within the Local Movement” conference organized by Havle Women’s Association. You can click here to access other texts of our Feminism Localization conference.