Defense Movement from Samsun – Dünya Newspaper

Yasmin Saleh

What brought you to Turkey and corporate life while in America?

Definitely luck. My dream was to build a career in the world of fashion, to advance in the world of television. After my university studies, I did not see myself in the office. I am the daughter of an American mother and a father of Samson. I am a citizen of the world. I lived in Turkey until I was 16 years old. I had a happy childhood. I am studying business and design. I took part in a beauty contest in America. Because my dream was different. After learning design, I design evening dresses. I really enjoy this work. All these experiences have taught me a lot. It is said that my problem-solving style is very different.

So, while all this was going on, did you deal with social issues and social problems?

I was a very outgoing teenager. I have a baby inside me that is not growing. I have always been an ideologue and advocate for social issues and the rights of different groups. The baby in me came out today. I have defended LGBTI rights. At a very young age, women’s rights issues caught my eye. I read a story at the age of 14 when I was at Samsung with my grandmother. Two brothers have killed a sister. “How could that be?” He said.

My grandmother told me that honor killings are very common in Turkey. I was afraid it might happen to me. When I was in university in the United States, I had to make a presentation for a lecture. I chose the place as Honor Killing. Because I thought this incident should be reported to more people.

How would you describe growing up as a girl in Turkey?

My name means “kind, friendly”. I am a social person. I am both American and Turkish. I grew up lucky and free. My grandmother used to say, “Don’t go to friends, don’t trust them” but there was a balance. Yes, I can be lucky, but so should all women. In America, no one cares about your make-up or whether you wear it. Therefore, I grew up more comfortable. As a woman, I am against violence against women.

You studied in Turkey and made a career. How did you decide to come to Turkey?

My father called. “Come here, you can do something good at the foundation,” he said. The foundation was an important inspiration to me. “I said okay. I wanted to try it first. Over the summer vacation, we went to Gabe Elport, Gabe Anatolian High School, built by our company. We did projects with students. I had very good contact with young people. First of all, we said, “Let’s go to Turkey for six months and then to America for six months.” We kept going. The projects are very exciting.

As the Garip & Zeycan Yıldırım Foundation, are there any areas that you particularly accept and prioritize?

Of course there is. We have focused on three main issues: education, youth development and gender equality … education is very important to us. We started a high-impact project. We set out to teach English to all the teachers in Anatolia. Due to the epidemic, we are providing online training. To this end, we have partnered with the Village School Transformation Network (CODA). We get positive feedback from teachers. We have not scheduled a time for this project. It will continue as long as there is demand. Because language education is very valuable for teachers.

What are you doing about gender equality?

We have started an awareness project with SamsonSpore in this regard. With the ‘purple uniform’, we both draw attention to violence against women and talk about women’s empowerment. We worked with a program called ‘Unit for Her’. We believe that women should defend themselves. That’s why we went all over Turkey to teach women defense techniques. We focus on self-defense here, but it doesn’t stop there. Because we believe that women should also defend themselves financially. We agree with Samsung’s Bahsehir University. The trainers there will give defense lessons. First we started with Samson. Then will come Istanbul, Izmir. Later, we will expand according to demand. We aim to expand to 25 in the first place.

So you want to teach women to fight?

We teach women to defend themselves. How can he neutralize the opponent during the attack? We teach you how to do it.

Do you find it difficult to get permission from your father when starting these and similar projects?

Indeed, it was a violent incident that initiated this project. On March 6, 2020, at Samsun Atakume, a father kicked and beat his wife in front of his child. Everyone in Turkey has seen these pictures. It touched me a lot. I talked to my dad and said, “Let’s do something as a foundation.” It seemed to me to use the power of football to raise awareness. My designer side has taken action. We design purple forms. We finished it all in one day. We launched the project on March 7. If it had been the old Uxel Yildirim, maybe it would have been hard to explain, it would have taken weeks, but because of the coronavirus epidemic, my dad thought differently. He was more flexible.

So what was the main purpose of the purple color on the jersey?

I think beyond the violence, there is a problem of social oppression of women in Turkey. Women who have been victims of violence feel that it has happened to them and are ashamed of their situation. This is a cultural situation. We took it with SamsonSpore. I think other clubs should also take responsibility. The situation of women under social pressure has to change now. The woman wore it, she acted like it, she deserved it… these should end now. For this reason, we wanted to draw attention with purple jerseys.

What is your plan to empower women financially?

This is a very important issue for me. All the research shows that women are stronger when given opportunities in business life and in some respects they are more successful than men. I also want to start a project to help women in business. We transfer 10% of revenue from the sale of purple jerseys to the ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ project. We will select women’s projects for assistance in June We will also provide financial assistance.

You also have a role on the board of directors of Yıldirım Holding. What do you do with the representation of women in the company?

I am the only woman on the board. However, we are taking important steps regarding women. Currently, 45 percent of all employees are women. We are going to increase it to 50 percent. We are preparing to take important steps to make women’s work environment easier. For example, we have announced a monthly holiday. Our goal is to increase the rate of women in management to 25 percent.

Participated in beauty contest to take part in social issues

Zeycan Yıldırım, who has a passion for fashion, design and beauty, says he uses the feature to draw attention to social issues and injustice. So she took part in the Miss Universe beauty pageant held in America. Yildirım said, “Show my dream that beauty, intelligence and success can coexist in a woman. To be a role model that transcends barriers and changes the stereotype of attractive women. Everyone must show their strength and desire to change. Only then can we begin real change. “

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