September 27, 2022

Girne Mayor Nidai Güngördü made important announcements at the recent gender equality conference in Girne when he said:

“We want to join the social movement to boost female empowerment”.

“Local elections can be a springboard if political parties support women candidates”.

Girne Municipality has been a member of the Middle East and West Asia (MEWA) Section of the United Cities and Local Governments Organisation (UCLG), since 2018. At the UCLG General Assembly held in Konya in June 2021 Girne Municipality was elected  Co-Chairman of the Organisation and Chairman of the Gender Equality Committee.

Girne Mayor Güngördü touched upon some important issues at the Committee’s first meeting organised by the Municipality, when gender equality in local governments was discussed.

Pointing out that their aim was to join the social movement to eliminate discrimination in cities and increase the power of women in society, Güngördü said that, in addition to the important support given to women in production industries, supporting female mayors, council members, village mukhtars and council members at the upcoming local elections could make a leap in gender equality in society. He said: “We live in a very beautiful city but we need to work harder to preserve it and strengthen the place of women in society.”

Güngördü also signed the Women-Friendly City Commitment of KADER (Association to Support Women Candidates), at this meeting.

“Our presidency of the Tourism Commission added a significant momentum to Girne”

Güngördü said Girne Municipality held the presidency of MEWA Tourism Commission in the 2019-22 period. The momentous decision of the Istanbul based Secretariat to move to beautiful Girne gave the town a huge impetus. He said that holding the Presidency of the Tourism Commission of an organisation with 280 member cities was extremely important for them as the Mayor, staff and Council Members of a town which is under embargoes and various political pressures. Despite the pandemic they had continued with their duties by holding online meetings in the 3 year period. A workshop on ‘Accessible Tourism’ was held in October 2021 and a report  published on its conclusions.

A social movement to eliminate discrimination in cities and boost female empowerment in society

Having recently assumed the duties of Co-Chair of UCLG and Chairman of the Gender Equality Committee Güngördü said his aim was to raise the standard even higher in the 2022-25 period, by carrying on with the good start made by Beylikdüzü Municipality in the previous period. “We want to engage in a social movement that will eliminate discrimination in cities, will be all inclusive and empower women in society. As well as sharing knowledge we want to suggest serious and productive policies in member cities by drawing on lessons from existing examples and with the experiences of our city, Türkiye and other countries in the Organisation”.

We started practical applications for the disabled in the city back in 2014

Güngördü said that they had started new ventures in the city when they took office in July 2014 and gave some examples. In November 2014, the Cyprus Turkish Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers had the management of regulations suitable for the disabled adopted by Municipality Councils as well as the implementation of obligatory physical solutions for disabled access to new business premises.

A women’s committee was established in the City Council and women were included in committees.

Two ‘meet the people’ City Congresses were held during the last term and committees were established to solve problems raised. One of them was a Women’s Committee to identify the problems and the needs of women. As members of the various other committees they had the opportunity to make suggestions on city administration.

Güngördü emphasized the productivity of the council members and municipal employees being important in the realisation of this vision.

He said MEWA had signed the manifesto in 2019 to protect and advance women’s rights and to boost their role in the administration of the city.

Women’s industries must be supported

Pointing to the importance of supporting women to take part in production, Güngördü mentioned that during the pandemic they had come face to face with the necessity of increasing women’s involvement in it. Girne Municipality then took action to establish a women’s cooperative.

They also decided that some sort of a movement was needed in olive cultivation. The region had the richest olive tree potential in the Middle East. Accordingly, cooperating with the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye, a protocol was signed with Gaziantep Municipality on olive cultivation. Having decided to support women producers they were donating 50 thousand saplings to them. This program had already started. Girne Municipality was growing stronger from the roots upwards.

“Gender discrimination makes our region a difficult one”

Güngördü said the Middle East was one of the most difficult regions in the world for tackling issues relating to women and gender. “Accordingly our responsibilities pile up. We need to work harder to create an all inclusive society”.

“One of the three assistant directors at Girne Municipality is a female as well as six out of fifteen branch managers”

Güngördü was proud to give the internal structure of Girne Municipality as one third of assistant directors and almost half of branch managers were women. This could be taken as an illustration of their appreciation, but greater effort and serious steps were necessary to take on more social work.

It was important to collaborate with academics, universities and non-governmental organisations. “If a city cannot be managed with a common mind set, that city ceases to be a city” he said. “We held those City Congresses because we believe in that common vision. We had to stop those meetings because of the pandemic but we will resume them as soon as possible”.

“Local elections can be a spring board if more female candidates come forward”

Continuing with his speech Güngördü said: “There are local elections very soon. Our aim is to increase the number of elected female mayors, city council members, village mukhtars and councilors. This meeting today will probably come out as a declaration at the end of the Conference. We call on the political parties in Cyprus to take measures to increase women’s quota. We need more contemporary people, who care more about women and show greater interest in social problems from a female’s point of view. If all political parties do their part, female mayoral candidates and council members will increase. I hope local elections will act as a spring board. It would be another step in appreciating women in society. If all political parties did their part, I think society will get to better place”.

In addition to the Committee meeting on 5th August at Girne Grand Pasha Hotel the report on “Monitoring Equality in Municipalities” was introduced. A round table panel of mainland Turkish, foreign and local participants held discussions on the topics of “Achieving Gender Equality in Local Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities” and “Equality Action Guide for Local Governments”.

Source (Turkish): Girne Municipality

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