UNFPA: We are breaking through the wall of silence of those exposed to violence

Karl Kulessa, UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Representative in Turkey
Karl Kulessa, UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Representative in Turkey

A ‘’Workshop of Project Companies’’ organised within the scope of the project of ‘’Business Against Domestic Violence’’, a project that is supported by the United Nations Population Fund and Sabancı Foundation and executed by the Corporate Governance Forum of Sabancı University in cooperation with TÜSİAD was held in Istanbul on 15 March 2019 with the financial contribution of the British Embassy.

The workshop where representatives over 25 companies participated provided a productive discussion environment. The workshop used the technique of ‘’search conference’’.  “Search conference’’ is defined as a conference type that allows companies participating in a project come together, get to know each other and exchange their views.

One of the speakers in the workshop was Lorraine Fussey, Deputy Consul General at the British General Consulate. She said: ‘’Every employer can have employees who have been subjected to domestic violence. Sometimes they are victims or witnesses, sometimes perpetrators of violent acts. Private sector has a role of importance in respect of combating and preventing all types of domestic violence. Employers in the private sector and public sector have certain legal and ethical responsibilities and economic priorities in terms of ensuring the health and safety of their employees and combating all the risks, be it concerning the working environment or not. When employers demonstrate that they are aware of the domestic violence and duly inform their employees about the related accessible services, they would help their employees break through the wall of silence of domestic violence that hinder many employees to seek help.’’ and added: ‘’We are pleased to support related programmes in Turkey, as we do it in many other countries. The British Embassy also appreciates having been able to support such an important event’’.

Karl Kulessa, UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Representative in Turkey, held a speech at the opening of the workshop. He said: ‘’The Turkey Office of the United Nations Population Fund has been cooperating with the private sector to address the issue of gender equality by means of the Project of Business Against Domestic Violence particularly in the past six years. We note with great satisfaction that 53 companies have participated in the project, among them some of the biggest companies in Turkey with tens of thousands of employees. No doubt that this project has priority for the United Nations Population Fund. The violence employees experience at home and the related health problems and psychological disorders affect their working life, reducing their motivation, causing increased absence from work place and a serious decline in their performance.’’

The participants of the workshop shared their observations concerning the transformations experienced in their companies after the inclusion in the project. Thereby the participants had opportunity to discuss diverse experiences, for instance, that people have begun to challenge the roles of men and women in their company, and that men have also begun to take part in meetings held to talk about the issue, and also that women employees still have difficulty to talk about the violence they have experienced. Other experiences discussed were that chaos prevailed in the company because of the lack of clear information on some notions, and that women were still defined not as an individual, but as an actor within the scope of the family.

About the Project of Business against Domestic Violence

The project of Business Against Domestic Violence (BADV) is a project designed by the Corporate Governance Forum of Sabancı University. It s aim is to pave the way for the creation of support mechanisms against domestic violence at work places, in an effort to make the violence against women more apparent. The project defines the measures and support mechanisms, which the business community can take and create against domestic violence on the basis of their administrative and organisational skills. The project that was launched in 2013 thanks to the grants provided by the General Consulate of the Netherlands and UNFPA aims at creating awareness at work places on the rights of women and ensuring, by improving the work environment of women, that women assume a more active role at work places.