6 December 2017, Eskişehir - Eskişehir Osmangazi University and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Women and Girls Safe Space organized "Awareness Raising Panel Against Child Marriage" within the scope of Orange Days that is an Activism campaign for ending Violence Against Women. The panel is funded by European Civil Protection And Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). In the panel, legal, psychology, religion and health experts shared information with the beneficiaries of Women and Girls Safe Space located in Eskişehir regarding the adverse effects of child marriages. 175 women beneficiaries attended the panel.
United Nations Humanitarian Aid Program Women Empowerment Expert Gül Erdost, who made the panel's opening speech, talked about the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) work to raise awareness of refugee women regarding sexual health, reproductive health and gender equality. Erdost, stating that the awareness-raising efforts have started in the refugee camps since the war that erupted close to our borders. Erdost also mentioned that Women and Girls Safe Spaces were established with the increase of the refugee population throughout Turkey. Erdost emphasized that not only girls but also boys are victims of child marriages and that they should be made aware of this as well.
Eskişehir Osmangazi University Vice Rector Prof. Dr. İlhami Ünlüoğlu, who made the opening speech of the panel stated that child marriages are pushing young people who have not completed their full development to an unhealthy condition. Reminding that each individual under the age of eighteen is considered as a child according to international conventions approved by our country in 1994, Prof. Dr. Ilhami Ünlüoğlu said, "Whatever the reason, marriages made in the age childhood years are wrong. Because individuals have not yet completed their biological, psychological and social developments".
Panelists in the fields of health, psychology, law and religion assessed child marriages in their specialties. The panel was concluded with the experience sharing by some of the beneficiary women of Eskisehir Osmangazi University and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Women and Girls Safe Spaces.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS)
One in three women in the world marries before the age of 18. Unless essential and effective studies are conducted about child marriages, it is expected that the number of women who marry at a young age will reach 1.2 billion as of 2050. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Turkey Office has been offering capacity development, service provision, reproductive health services and hygiene supplies in women's health and violence against women within the scope of the Humanitarian Aid Program since 2011.
In this respect, Safe Spaces for Women and Girls (WGSS) have started to forge cooperation with various organizations. The centers established in various cities in 2017 with the support from the European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), US Government, Swedish Government and Japanese Government mainly operate in sexual and reproductive health, gender based violence, psycho-social support, empowerment and supply distribution for asylum seeker women and girls.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was established in 1969 and as the biggest aid source with international funding in the area of population operating around the world. UNFPA operates in more than 150 countries for creating policies and strategies that support sustainable development. Having started its activities on a project basis, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been working on reproductive health, encouraging social gender equality, collecting, using and distributing data about development and humanitarian aid in Turkey since 1971. Within this framework, the first Country Program lasted from 1988 to 1992 and now the Sixth Country Program (2016-2020) is being executed.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. To this end, UNFPA focuses especially 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); SDG 3: Good health and well-being, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality and finally, SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals
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