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The Role of women’s NGOs in women’s empowerment in Turkey

Baherirad, Sara
The main aim of the thesis is to study women’s empowerment and the role of women’s NGOs in the empowerment process. Women’s empowerment in Turkey is a frequently mentioned topic in the literature however the role of NGOs who conduct projects focusing on women are understudied. In contrast to many others, this research approaches the notion of empowerment in relation to women’s experiences and thoughts. This study aims to contribute to the literature by analyzing these projects from a feminist perspective underlining the significance of women’s agency which is defined collectively and through paying attention to the context-specific characteristics. The notion of empowerment is conceptualized in three levels which include personal, relational and environmental dimensions. In this framework, this thesis aims to discover the tools of women empowerment, the role of NGOs in the empowerment process, impacts of specific projects considering their ideological attitude, the power relations regarding the role of governmental institutions and the specific influences of macro-level and micro-level projects. In the field research textual analysis of projects are made and in-depth interviews were conducted both with the project coordinators, the project assistants and the women participating to the projects to understand the power relations embedded within the interactions between NGOs, project coordinators and the participants. In this context, it is also important to underline the effect of state-NGO relations and the importance of the economic dimension. The results of the research suggest that the empowerment projects do not have a deep impact on the lives of women, especially at the personal and environmental levels and they generally lack sustainability since most of the projects tend to see women as isolated passive recipients.