< SWITCH ME >

The dreams of the strong woman

written by Kristi Hodak 

I'm staring at Beyza's poster; I tilt my head and try to look professional. As a visual artist I should discover all the hidden meanings in even the most hidden visual symbols that Beyza Sarıkoç, a 23-year-old girl from Turkey, has drawn to represent her "so-called" future.

I see a green pine tree. A happy family. And a rainbow peace flag. Harmony? Maybe resistance? The wish to find a pine tree in the centre of Berlin? I need words. And an explanation. Three months of intensive listening at graphic design lectures obviously weren't enought. I need a story.

Firstly I would like to know about the profound meaning of the dark tree-tops. Nothing - green is her favourite colour. I could guess that; she's wearing a green sweater. Next: Flag. Family. Suddenly the power of story defeats coloured drawings.

Beyza is finishing her studies in political science and public administration in Ankara at the moment. Usually she gets up in the morning to study, then she calls her family, who live in her hometown of Aydin, and heads off to have lunch with her boyfriend. After lunch she goes to a nongovermental organisation and works with her friends. Then she comes back to her apartment. She turns on the TV. Everyday, she's angered by news about a man killing his wife, or about the problems caused by strong traditions and patriarchy. Beyza has high aims: "We need to change women's position in Turkish society. Changing laws isn't enough, we need to go deeper, start at the roots. With education and bringing up children from the very beginning. The mentality of the traditional part of Turkey should be changed."

the_strong_woman
Photo: craftivist-collective (CC-NC)
In Beyza's future, she will make sure women have a voice. 

She has a plan and her plan isn't sitting at home doing nothing.

When I ask her how she imagines a normal Monday in ten years, she smiles, looks at the ceiling and thinks for a moment. She answers me slowly, considering each word.

In ten years, Beyza will wake up very early in the morning, so she will manage to finish all the work that she sets to herself. She will eat a healthy breakfast and at eight she will already be sitting on a black chair in a new renovated office at the Institute for Women's Rights. During her lunch break, she will continue working on her PhD research - with the new job she will finally be able to afford it. At four o'clock in the afternoon she will hurry home to her lovely little family. During dinner she will hear familiar knockings at the front door. Without complaining she will leave the table and welcome women who come to ask her for help with their problems. They will trust her. They will speak loudly together, on TV, radio and in newspapers.

"People need to know and hear about the suffering and problems that this woman deal with every day. They need to face the fact that this is not the way it should be."

It is the determination in her eyes that convinces me that Beyza isn't going to forget about her aims. Not now, nor in ten years.

I wonder where her point of view comes from? Has she got it from her family? "No. My family is still a bit traditional. They support my studies, but they want me to work in national institutions. I could get a promotion there and a high salary. But it's not the money that I care about," she said. 

I glance at Beyza's picture. I tilt my head and try to look professional. As a visual artist I should discover all hidden meanings in even the most hidden visual symbols. But as a journalist and as a person I'm now able to see so much more. There is her family sitting around the table. They are all smiling. There's no smell of patriarchy and you can feel peace and satisfaction. I'm talking about Beyza's future.

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