28 years old
Evre Kaynak, from Turkey, holds a B.A. in Economics from Istanbul University, and a double M.A. in Development Economics and Human Rights Law from Marmara University and Bilgi University. Since 2005, she has been the National Program Coordinator at Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR) - New Ways. She is currently coordinating their National Program and the Human Rights Training Program for Women, developed by WWHR-New Ways in 1995 and implemented in community centers in 36 different provinces throughout Turkey. more>>
IWHC: How did you get involved in the struggle for women's and young people's rights?
Evre Kaynak: In my opinion, human rights are relevant to every dimension of our lives. I do not consider my struggle to be for someone, but a struggle with women and young people like me, as an everyday practice. more>>
IWHC: Can you describe what you do at Women for Women's HumanRights-New Ways (WWHR)? What inspired you to start working with WWHR?
EK: I work as the National Program Coordinator with WWHR, one of Turkey's primary women's non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and now the secretariat of an international network, the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies. more>>
IWHC: How do you feel that WWHR has changed women's lives, either in specific instances or in general? What about priorities for future work with younger groups?
EK: As a result of national, regional, and international lobbying and advocacy efforts, WWHR has also managed to amend various laws in Turkey in order to promote gender equality. As a woman living in Turkey, I don't need formally to monitor how it is changing women's lives, because I am living that personally. Many of my sexual, bodily, economic, political, and civil rights had been guaranteed by the state with the efforts of the women's movement through initiation and coordination by WWHR. more>>
IWHC: What do you see as major challenges facing young people in Turkey today? What about greatest opportunities?
EK: The major challenge facing young people in Turkey is a high level of depoliticization...My generation grew up with the fear of engaging in any political activities, because many laws and institutions which came into force after the military intervention prevailed for many years. Some still do. After the military intervention, the women's movement was the first civil initiative to organize and raise their voices against domestic violence on the streets. more>>
IWHC: What do you think are some of the most important issues for programmers and policymakers to address in order to promote and protect the health and rights of young people – especially young girls?
EK: Programmers and policymakers should first stop ignoring young people's, particularly young girls', existence—their power, their expectations, their bodily and spiritual integrity and autonomy. more>>
IWHC: How can activists, policymakers, different groups work together to bring young people to the table?
EK: Programs and projects should be developed to improve young people's knowledge, skills, and attitudes on active citizenship, human rights, and political participation, so that they can be politically involved. more>>
IWHC: Do you have positive examples from your professional or personal experience in which both dialogue and programming have achieved meaningful youth participation or leadership? What was effective about these particular examples?
EK: I have direct experience training over 200 young people on human rights, through a project called "Our Rights and Democracy" run by the Community Volunteers Foundation between 2004 – 2007...The most effective part was getting young people to understand that human rights is not an issue to work "about," but it is an integral part of their lives: their activities, their work, their relations, and attitudes. more>>
IWHC: What are some of the most important things you have learned from working with WWHR?
EK: Although I have been working on women's human rights for several years, the main thing I have learned from WWHR is that learning is an ongoing process and there is always more to know, to be aware of, and to act on!
IWHC: What are your dreams for the future? Can you describe your vision of an ideal or better world?
EK: A democratic and peaceful world based on respect to human rights and gender equality.
IWHC: How did you first become acquainted with IWHC?
EK: Through the cooperation between WWHR and IWHC. IWHC has provided funds to WWHR since 1998. They currently support our work as secretariat of a network of advocates for sexual health and rights throughout the Middle East and North Africa—the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies. This support is especially key, since it is such a challenging region to work on these issues.