The event that was held on the occasion of 8 March International Women’s Day and hosted by İstanbul Bilgi University was financed by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). In the event, Songül Öden, United Nations Population Fund Spokesperson, shared some scenes of Lal Hayal, her solo theatre play, with the spectators and conducted a discussion on violence towards women and gender equality with the audience. The discussion was presided over by Bora Özbek, UNFPA National Gender Based Violence Expert in Humanitarian Aid Programme. In her solo play Lal Hayal, Öden plays seven female characters.
Songül Öden, UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Spokesperson since 2012, said that she has developed the seven female characters she plays in the play based on the women and girls she met during her visits as the UNFPA spokesperson and her interactions with the UNFPA staff.
An audience of around 200 spectators attended the event held in İstanbul Bilgi University on the occasion of 8 March International Women’s Day, among whom were university students, academics and some of the implementing partners of UNFPA in Humanitarian Aid Programme.
UNFPA Spokesperson Songül Öden, who gave life to female characters in the reading session with discussion, said: ‘’Violence affects women from every social background. Women not only with lower income, but also those looking back on a top managerial career may be exposed to violence.’’ Repeating the line ‘’when not united, we are lost one by one’’ of one of the female characters in the play, which summarizes the serious problems women can face if they don’t stand in solidarity against violence, Songül Öden emphasized that women should raise their voice against violence. Taking short pauses between reading sessions and role-playing, she discussed with the spectators over the characters, incidents experienced by the characters and the impressions of these incidents on the audience.
Bora Özbek, UNFPA National Gender Based Violence Expert in Humanitarian Aid Programme, underlined, during the reading rehearsal, that violence towards women does not only affect those women who are exposed to it, but it also does have individual, family-related and social effects and consequences. Besides, he pointed out that we could experience violence in many forms, from physical violence to psychological and economic violence that can haunt us in any sphere of life. He indicated that these violence forms have existed and sustained in any realm of society independent from socio-economic level, and that it is of great value to underline this fact on the basis of the play characters. Responding a question, he said that gender patterns begin to take shape at the earliest age, with gender roles first adopted in the family circle and reinforced in later stages of our lives by impressions/experiences one has through printed and visual media, individuals in one’s social circle, school and school friends. He underlined that gender sensitive approaches should be adopted in all the fields mentioned to enhance consciousness on gender.