How Turkish Women With Disabilities Are Entering the Workforce

Women with disabilities often encounter ‘double discrimination’ in Turkey – faced with unemployment or lower-grade jobs on account of their gender and their disability. Government work quotas are not solving the issue, so Turkey’s women are taking matters into their own hands.

Gulay Salman (left) and her friend Sevgi Tongel at her market stall, selling crafts made at the Love Angels Arts Workshop. Photograph: Aynur Tekin

ISTANBUL, Turkey – “When you work with people with disabilities you see that if a person with a disability gets strong enough and can defend their rights, he or she does not need any financial or psychological help anymore.” That’s the view of Professor Resa Aydin of Istanbul University, a long-standing campaigner for disability rights in Turkey. Aydin believes that the government’s quota system, introduced in 2014 to ensure businesses employ a mandatory number of people with disabilities, is well-meaning but flawed – particularly when it comes to women.

About 5 million people with disabilities live in Turkey: 43 percent men; 57 percent women. Some 35 percent of men with disabilities are part of the country’s workforce compared to only 12.5 percent of women with disabilities. Furthermore, according to research by the Association of Women with Disabilities (Engelli Kadin Dernegi), those women who are able to get a job – despite the two-pronged prejudice against both women seeking employment and people with disabilities – are generally paid less than their male counterparts, disabled or otherwise.

Despite an increase in the number of women with disabilities going into further education in recent years, they are still not able to get jobs that match their level of education. Regardless of their skill set, they are often employed as secretaries or receptionists – a disparity the government’s quota system fails to address.

Professor Aydin has been working on a rights-based approach to disability for more than 20 years. As the head of Istanbul University’s Unit of Students with Disabilities, she says there is no gender discrimination of people with disabilities at her university, adding, “We do not see double discrimination in education. When education is completed and work life starts, we encounter double discrimination then. We see that men with disabilities are employed in preference to women with disabilities.”

In regards to the government’s quotas, Aydin says, “I do not think it is a system that functions well.” For such an initiative to be successful, training of employers, enforcement of environmental regulations and promotion of the rights of people with disabilities should also be undertaken. Only then, she argues, will people with disabilities – particularly women – be able to truly enjoy a lack of discrimination.

Instead, it has been left for those at the front line of this battle to attempt to give others the help they never received themselves.

Duygu Kayaman is an entrepreneur who has taken a crucial step in facilitating access to information for visually impaired people with her project Hayal Ortagim (Dream Partner). Kayaman lost her sight when she was two and a half years old, and has developed the project based on her own needs and experiences in academia and the world of employment. Visually impaired people throughout Turkey can now access the day’s newspapers thanks to her application, which provides a spoken-word version of the publications via a smartphone app, allowing 200,000 people with restricted or complete lack of vision to keep up to date with current events.

Kayaman suggests disabled women who want to take the initiative “should never give up until they find the right people to be the partner to their dreams.”

It is advice that rings true for Gulay Salman, who works with children with disabilities at the Sevgi Melekleri Arts Sanat Atolyesi (Love Angels Arts Workshop). Salman, a former kindergarten teacher from the province of Kocaeli, lost the use of the right side of her body due to paralysis five years ago. As part of her rehabilitation, she started to research on the internet what she could do with one hand and thus became interested in handicrafts. She made products such as candy and door ornaments, earning income from her efforts.

She then decided to share her talents, while providing socialization for children with disabilities, and has been running the workshop ever since.

Love Angels does not currently have a fixed location, something Salman hopes will change soon: “If a center can be established, children will be able to devote more time to crafts. We aim to pave the way for them to be independent individuals and obtain their own incomes. We want to build a structure where they can both socialize and acquire a profession.”

Salman adds that this goal is particularly important for girls with disabilities as they are viewed as being almost entirely dependent on their parents: “Parents are hardly ever separated from girls.”

For Salman, establishing a center and allowing children to empower themselves through crafts is a hugely important step in changing the way Turkish society views people with disabilities – something that the government’s quota legislation could never hope to cultivate.

“All people with disabilities have [the same] rights as other people. We can work, we can join politics, we can be business people. I do not want anybody to view people with disabilities in a pitying manner,” she says

This article is republished from News Deeply under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Death of the CWHL Presents a New Opportunity for Women’s Professional Hockey

The sudden announcement by the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) that it was ceasing operations has generated controversy and confusion. But as an academic who researches sport organizations, I have a different take — the CWHL closure opens the door for new and innovative women’s professional hockey opportunities.

On the surface, this ordeal reads as a tale of two leagues – one non-profit, the CWHL, and one for-profit, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

When the CWHL announced it was shutting down, the league’s board of directors stated“the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable.” Many fans and media took this to mean the non-profit model won’t work and the only option is the NWHL’s for-profit approach.

But this is a shortsighted view.

Closure is a catalyst for change

The closure of the CWHL is a catalyst for other key stakeholders to enter the scene — which has happened many times in the past for men’s professional hockey, where leagues have come and gone.

As my early doctoral research shows, many different stakeholders — including players, hockey federations, government and industry officials — have influenced the development of hockey over time.

The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, created in 1914, initially resisted popular pressure to allow pay-to-play leagues to emerge. But as players opted for independent leagues that paid them, the CAHA loosened its regulations and accommodated a degree of professionalism while at the same time overseeing the development of hockey in the country.

This shift opened the market to hockey boosters and entrepreneurs, some of whom owned rinks and needed to have an attractive product in order to entice customers.

Money-making activity was fast and furious. Leagues came (the National Hockey League started in 1917) and went (the professional National Hockey Association lasted from 1909-18).

Rivalry between leagues

In his account of the emergence of the NHL, academic John Wong says separate camps jockeyed for position and profit as commercial hockey gained public interest. This is no different than the interplay — or as some note, the business rivalry — between the CWHL and NWHL that has unfolded since 2015, when the U.S.-based NWHL formed.

Women’s hockey also attracted economic interests during the early part of the 20th century. In his review of American women’s hockey in the First World War era, Andrew Holmannotes that sports entrepreneurs sought new ways to sell the game, and as a result, women’s hockey was positioned as a commercial venture. The key point Holman makes about this historic time, though, is the rise and fall of the women’s game, including its professional form. It is important to note the CWHL story has happened before.

In his examination of hockey capital and the sports industry, historian Andrew Ross notes the complex men’s professional hockey landscape has included single-ownership leagues. He points out the NHL was once an unincorporated, non-profit organization.

Not a new model

The key lesson, then, is to recognize the CWHL model was not new and that this approach, as well as others, has existed and failed in the past. More importantly, these models, and the individuals that spearheaded them, pave the way for new and viable professional women’s hockey approaches to emerge.

Which brings us to the next phase of the story.

In my work on the global development of women’s hockey, I note there is no one “best” model, and that each country must develop at its own pace through a method that best suits its unique hockey system. The same is true for a professional women’s hockey league.

Image result for cwhl

However, the CWHL’s shutdown created a vacuum. Just over 48 hours after the CWHL released news of its decision to close, the NWHL’s board announced an investment plan to establish two teams in Canada, and that it received a financial sponsor commitment from the NHL. And so, in a similar fashion to how the NHL and World Hockey Association, a rival men’s professional hockey league that existed from 1972-79, merged, one league shuts down while the others acquires some of its franchises and moves on as the lone commercial player in the female game.

Looking back to 2015 when the NWHL was formed, it’s interesting to reflect upon the CWHL’s response. The CWHL commissioner at the time, Brenda Andress, commented that the NWHL model was wrong and “that for us, it’s about sound operational and financial foundations first because we want to ensure the viability of the long term.”

During its 12 years of operation, the CWHL took this approach and in so doing, shaped the professional women’s hockey landscape. It’s now time for the next stage.