"I wanted to show my dad that he was wrong"
I had an opportunity to interview a strong Turkish women, who was asked to leave school when she was 14, and had an arranged marriage when she was 15.
Me: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
S: I was born and raised in a small village near Ankara (capital of Turkey). My husband and I have a 30 year old daughter and a 28 year old son.
Me: You look very young. If you don’t mind me asking, how long were you when you had your first child?
S: I got married when I was 15. I had my first baby when I was 17 and my second one when I was 19.
Me: How did you meet your husband?
S: Ours was an arranged marriage. My dad owns a small construction business and my husband was working with him as an engineer at the time. We met 5 days before our wedding and it wasn’t love at first sight. My husband was 25 years old when we got married; it feels like we grew up together. We’ve been happily married for the past 32 years.
Me: Were you in high school when you got married?
S: No. I didn’t go to high school. After I finished elementary school, my dad didn’t want me to study anymore.
Me: Why do you think he didn’t want you to further your education?
S: None of the women in his family have worked. He thinks a women’s job is to take care of the children. This is extremely irrational. After my children grew up and started going to kindergarden, I started taking distance learning courses and completed my high school degree. At the same time, I started working full time at a dentist office. My husband always supported me and our children to pursue our education. When my daughter was preparing for the OSS (refers to the college entrance exam in Turkey), I was studying for that exam at the same time. We took the exam together and applied for colleges.
Me: That’s very inspiring, you should be proud of yourself.
S: I was able to get into the college and my daughter was selected to be one of the top 1,000 students in Turkey that year.
Me: Thanks for sharing your story. Obviously, you came a very long way.
S: My children and my husband had always supported me. I was very ambitious because I wanted my dad to see that I deserve to be educated and I can take care of my children and provide a living for my family at the same time.
Me: Do you think is it easy being a woman in Turkey?
S: The gender equality is still a problem; women and men are equal, only on paper. Women are very well respected, but only in the family context. They are respected as a spouse, a mom and a care giver