IWFA-led Conference Highlights Ways of Tackling Urban Poverty Via Family Friendly Strategies for Development

05 Şubat 2014 at 08:39

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 The International Women and Family Association (IWFA, or UKADER in Turkish) organized an international conference on `Urban Poverty and Family Friendly Strategies for Regeneration” on January 25, 2014 in Istanbul. 

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Making opening remarks at the event, IWFA President Mrs. Fatma Genç Ünay said they were honored by the attendance of scholars, researchers, scientists, writers, civil society leaders, practitioners as well as doctoral students from various academic backgrounds to the gathering which marked the beginning of a series of planned such events on the same topic. Briefing the participants about the organization she is heading and its endeavors, Ünay said, “The IWFA is a women-led civil initiative which was formed in Istanbul thanks to the joint efforts made by pioneering businesswomen, professionals, women entrepreneurs and volunteers. Our founding mission is to raise the status of women and to boost family-oriented values through forging a global network of knowledge sharing, interaction and solidarity. To these ends, we conduct a variety of activities and projects like conferences and congresses, workshops, seminars, awareness-building campaigns, and etc.”

  Stressing that they firmly stick to the notion of “We hold in high esteem those who have the knowledge”, Ünay said, “We believe that the real poverty is the morbid deprivation emerging in the hearts and minds of societies which attach no value to the people of knowledge, and that scholarly efforts and exchange of views by intellectuals enrich a society in real terms.” Calling urban poverty one of the IWFA’s most important areas of focus, she said, “Any initiative without scientific infrastructure is, so to speak, like a building devoid of one of its main columns holding it up, and bound to come down. Believing this, we, with the contribution of valuable scholars and intellectuals, aim to thoroughly and in its all dimensions discuss and to come up with solutions to the issue of urban poverty. In line with this objective, we intend, instead of being made worried by the poverty problem, to produce solutions with the help of public support in addition to intellectual and scientific backup. This is why we came together today with esteemed academics and researchers from different academic disciplines such as economics, sociology, communication, theology, cultural studies and political sciences. In this way, we want decision makers, non-governmental organizations and universities, the centers of knowledge production, and intellectuals to cooperate with each other to solve social problems.”

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Talking about the goals of the Conference, Ünay said, “The primary aim is to reconsider the root-causes of urban poverty and to contribute to the development of strategic measures directed towards elimination of them. Also, to help open the way for putting forward effective and sensitive strategies for an urban regeneration model that would ensure to reach out to all people who put up with poverty in silence is among the overriding ends of the event,” and added, “When we set out as IWFA to organize this gathering with the belief that poverty is not the fate of humanity, our main purpose was to touch the ‘social and moral’ reflections, in other words, the humanitarian aspects of the poverty problem, like the feeling of deprivation caused by poverty. This is because poverty and the feeling of social exclusion and rejection which poverty brings with it inflict deeper wounds on the social psychology than physical poverty.  The results manifest themselves in the saddening and harming forms of social crises and dramas.” She also said, “When we had a closer look at the issue, we realized the fact that in recent years, core elements of society like ‘women and family’ have remained untouched by the mainstream development literature in the context of their relation to the problem of poverty. The concept of ‘family friendly development’ has been given no serious attention in social studies. Yet, any development thrust not designed to be family-oriented is defective. For these reasons, and in consideration of the need for family friendly development strategies to be addressed along with the phenomenon of urban poverty, we put the spotlight on this theme.”

 Ünay, turning to another facet of the problem, said, “Besides this, urban planning and urban regeneration approaches that have dominated public debates in recent years have excessively focused on the physical aspects of urbanization. However, the large-scale urban regeneration projects giving way to the emergence of new metropolises across Turkey are having extremely remarkable social and socio-psychological repercussions. Also, for males and females differently experience and react to poverty, it is highly important to develop an understanding of urban poverty taking into account its impact on women and family. It is sure that there is a growing awareness of difficulties and discrimination faced by women in the context of reaching employment opportunities and social services. Accordingly, it is essential for taking effective measures at both governmental and institutional levels to better understand problems gone through by women and family in relation to poverty. Based on this, we also believe that poverty-related notions such as vulnerability, the right to social security, health service and unemployment benefit, and social exclusion which help us analyze the risks posed by poverty and the reasons why people remain in poverty must be devoted more academic curiosity, becoming the subject of further scholarly discussion.”

 She also touched on their plan to hold a number of thematic conferences centered on urban poverty in the future, and said that the Business World Panel within the IWFA would organize the gatherings during which the solution of poverty issue would be discussed in parallel with employment policies and entrepreneurship. “This is not only a matter of civil society initiative but a matter of humanity,” she said and gave the information that as part of next conference, best academic paper, best practice and best photo awards would be presented to encourage academics, central government, municipalities and other local authorities as well as artists to get more closely involved in activities aimed at reducing and eliminating urban poverty. “We believe that it is a responsibility for all of us to contribute to the solution of poverty through sharing our studies, projects and experiences,” she said.

 “Along these lines, I’d like express our hope to bring together again academics, writers, intellectuals, opinion leaders, artists, policy makers and decision takers, representatives of media outlets, and local authorities as part of the planned conferences with focus on urban poverty in the years to come,” she said, calling for all those concerned to form a “collective mind” to help rethink the underlying factors of urban poverty, better understand the socio-psychology of those suffering from poverty and put in place socially and culturally sensitive new urban regeneration strategies.

 Ünay concluded her remarks expressing appreciation to those in attendance for their presence at the event that was spearheaded and conducted by the IWFA (International Women and Family Association – UKADER) in cooperation with Istanbul Commerce University (İTÜCÜ) and The Association for Women and Democracy (KADEM), and said she hopes the Conference will yield good results.

 After opening speach Esma Sunbol, IWFA’s Member of the Governing Board also reminded our obligatios for poor people. She said that “It is our brotherly obligation and political necessity to think of the poor and to work on relieving them of its burdens.We all accept that poverty  is the worst form of violence but it is also the mother of crime reducing productivity, homogenuity pushing one to drugs,prostitution,into an abyss of helpless unworthhiness.   In the present world of capitalism,where every man for himself prevails,we must face the reality that poverty is a social responsibility.For this, all walks of society must join hands the government,the municipalities, the media , theindividual, the neighborhoods until poverty is encircled from all sides.We can commence with the words of JFK “Do not ask what will my country do for me, but what can I do for my country?” Charity begins at home.We as mothers, parents shape the future we must instill in our children social responsibility including them at an early age in helping the disadvantaged, involving them in social work. The education system can work up an army against poverty.Schools can incorporate into the curriculum social work;community service where students can form mentor/broteur relations with orphans, be the Godchild of the elderly in elderly homes, organize fundraising events, help in the fixing, maintenance of old parks.Here both parties have value added to their lives. In neighborhoods, community centers are essential where the less privileged can receive free of charge assistance in tutoring, in nursery, a crutch to stand up with agaunst the strong current of mercenery modern life. The media has a big responsibility while as individuals, we can reach a few, the media reaches everyone ! TV series can include subtle messages that encourage charity.On advertisements, very effective short film depicting short film depicting a deeply moving poverty-related issue with an  appeal to help with just a TL 1 a month,allowing many walks of socrety to pontiapate in charity.TL 1 a month will not effect my life, but it will touch the  life of another. There is a worldly move by UN to eradicate poverty by the year 2015;we have a long way to go looking at the bare fact the over.”

 Mrs. Sunbol also emphasised her speach that “1.5 billion of the world is poor. Perceptions must change.Poverty should be viewed as a human rights issue; not as a question of simpley increasing  the gross national income. Nevertheless, poverty is too complex to be answered with the one size fits all approach.The approach must be a multi dimensional integration of economical,social,political and ethical goals. The first words revealed in our holy book  are “read”-“read in the name of thy lord”. Indeed,education tops the list of essentials of poverty eradication. Breaking the cycle of poverty begins when we invest in children.Children must get the knowledge and life skills they need to realize their full potential. Education and skill training for adults aims to secure livelihood. Poverty and employment are interrelated. Adequate employment opportunities should be created in rural areas; increasing farming, starting new industries, providning a means to support their families which will inhibit the growth of migration from nural areas to cities. Farmers, those with seasonal work should have a subsidiary industry such as furniture making,spinning, so on. Rural areas must be developed with infrastructure, clean water, and access to healthcare facilities. Basic needs must be met to put an and to the migration that spearheads poverly in cities. The underprivileged should have access to credit, break the shackles of debt. As a living example, the great caliphate Umar 2. eradicated poverty in 2 1/2 years, by encouraging education,rewarding teachers with stipends, inculcating piety,business ethics,moral rectitude,practicing zakat, building infrastructure,medical dispensaries, welfare programs for the destitute and orphans, lands for pasture and game reserves were evenly distributed to the poor. Whether we believe  like Benjamin Franklin that we must de good to the poor by leading the poor out of poverty instead of easing  the lives of the  poor or like Nelson Mandela believe in the rich sharing their wealth with the poor or like Thoreau who believed that just simplifying life will render poverty, no mine poverty. Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity.It is an act of justice. Poverty is not natural; it is man-made and it can be eradicated by the actions  of human beings.Sometimes, it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.Let your goodness blossom. I would like to end with a note on a poverty which goes unnoticed.We think that poverty is only being hungry,homeless.The poverty of being unwanted, unlored,uncared for, now that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than a person who has nothing to eat.”

 The Conference in a Nutshell The focus of the Conference on urban poverty was well-rounded by all speakers. They offered many solutions for urban poverty and strategies for family-friendly regeneration. The primary intention was to examine urban poverty in depth. The attendance was satisfactory. The speakers addressed the subject of the conference from all aspects such as social, literal, political, global and local. We thank all participants and organizations, especially the President of IWFA Fatma Gencç Ünay, again for their great supports.

 In the first session, Prof. Mustafa Karataş as a keynote speaker opened the gathering. Prof. Muhammed Şevki Aydın contributed with his paper titled “Ethics of Donating in the Context of Overspending and Poverty” and Prof. Hasan Hüsrev Hatemi, “Poverty in Our Culture and Literature”.  Prof. Zekeriya Güler presented his paper titled “Humans Facing the Problem of Wealth and Poverty” and  Assoc. Prof.  Halil Zaim, “The   Model of Descent Man in the Struggle Against Poverty”.  Finally Prof. Mustafa Karataş presented his paper “Approaches to Poverty in the light of Theological References”.

 In the second session, Prof. Nazif Gürdoğan as a keynote speaker opened the session. Prof. Aziz Akgül presented a paper on “Microcredit in Poverty Alleviation” and Prof. Bilâl Sambur a paper on “Freedom and Human Development”. Assoc. Prof. Mustafa Kurt presented a paper on “A Management Model Proposal for Urban Development: Corporate Democracy”; and Ömer Bozoğlu “Family Oriented Social Benefit and Social Service Model in Poverty Alleviation”. Assoc. Prof. Mehmet   Marangoz, “The   Role of NGO’s and Social Entrepreneurship in Challenging   Urban   Poverty”.

 In the third and last session, Assoc. Prof. Tuğba Karabulut was the keynote speaker and made an opening speech. Assoc. Prof. Şerif Esendemir presented a paper on “Feminization of Aging and Poverty in the Urban Context of Turkey”; Assoc. Prof. Derya   Altunbaş ve   Leyla Doğan presented a paper on “Sustainable Family for Sustainable   Urbanization”; Hasan Soygüzel presented a paper on “Participative Strategic Planning in   Local Developmet”; Gülenay Pınarbaşı, Poverty Motifs in Turkish Folk Literature. The Conference ended with a general assessment made by Assoc. Prof. Halil Zaim. The papers will be published in the days to come.

 

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SOURCE: IWFA News Centre

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