Woman to Woman Peace Activism in Turkey
This project explores women’s activism in Turkey during the peace process of 2013-2015. The cross-ethnic feminist advocacy for peace was associated with diverse women’s rights groups, most of whom joined the civic platform Women for Peace Initiative, which included Turkish, Kurdish and other minority activists. Overall, feminist peace work embraced specifically women’s and minorities’ (ethnic, religious, sexual) perspectives on peace; it was developed from the grassroots, it was transparent and focused not only on the cessation of armed violence but on social justice, gender equality, reconciliation and trust-building, too. It marked a new stage in the cross-ethnic feminist cooperation and solidarity in Turkey by bringing together numerous organizations and individual activists on an unprecedented scale. Most importantly, it articulated powerful intersectional visions of peace as the termination of what Cynthia Cockburn calls the “gendered continuum of violence”—that is the violence which permeates the life of women and marginalized groups in both conflict and non-conflict zones and which is embedded in militarized patriarchal systems of power.
Despite the collapse of the peace process and the dismal political developments in Turkey since mid-2015, feminist peace advocacy has continued. However limited and fragile under the current circumstances, it nurtures cross-ethnic social bonding amidst escalating ethnic, religious, class and ideological divisions and supports the building of a democratic subculture outside of an increasingly authoritarian state.
Ina Merdjanova is a senior researcher at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, and a former visiting professor at Coventry University’s the Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relation (2018-2021). She works across the disciplines of sociology, peace studies, gender studies, religious studies, politics and anthropology. She has extensive academic experience at various academic and research institutions: Oxford University, New York University, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Aleksanteri Institute at Helsinki University, and the Freiburg Center for Advanced Studies, among others.