Featuring Award Winning Women (2014)

The eighth "Sabanci Foundation Philanthropy Seminar" titled "Featuring Award Winning Women" was held on December 11, 2014 at Sabanci Center "Haci Omer Conference Hall" with the attendance of Ms. Guler Sabanci (Chairman of Sabanci Foundation Board of Trustees) and representatives from the public sector, business, media, art community, foundations, associations and universities in Turkey.

The eighth "Sabanci Foundation Philanthropy Seminar" titled "Featuring Award Winning Women" was held on December 11, 2014 at Sabanci Center "Haci Omer Conference Hall" with the attendance of Ms. Guler Sabanci (Chairman of Sabanci Foundation Board of Trustees) and representatives from the public sector, business, media, art community, foundations, associations and universities in Turkey.

Moderated by Ozlem Dalga, the seminar on "Featuring Award Winning Women" hosted two distinguished speakers; Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose book Half the Sky created an awareness and activism by telling the stories of women suffering from violence and oppression; and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the documentary filmmakerwho won Pakistan's first Academy Award for her documentary Saving Face, which is about the stories of women overcoming the challenges despite suffering from acid attacks.

In the seminar, Sertab Erener, famous Turkish pop singer, sang the song "Leyla", lyricized by Sezen Aksu, the famous Turkish musician and singer, and composed by Sertab Erener and Sezen Aksu in order to draw attention on women's and girls' issues.

In the opening speech of the Philanthropy Seminar, Chairman of Sabanci Foundation Board of Trustees Ms. Guler Sabanci stated that there are serious problems to be resolved regarding women's rights in Turkey and continued: "Turkey ranked 125th out of 142 countries in terms of gender equality in 2014 Global Gender Gap report of World Economic Forum. Turkey also ranked 118th among 148 countries in the United Nations Gender-related Development Index Report of 2014. Yes, a lot of things are done, we all make an effort. We should keep these rankings on the agenda and repeat them so that we can remind each other to work more. We need every single work and effort. We need the work of civil society organizations, of other institutions, we need all of them, all of these may create a difference even in a small way". 

Guler Sabanci emphasized that women's issues are multi-dimensional and continued: "Recently, the decision on, 'Establishment of a Parliamentary Investigation Committee to Investigate the Reasons of Violence against Women and to identify the Necessary Measures' was published in the Official Gazette. We are pleased with this decision and wish that this committee becomes operational very soon. Today many representatives of the civil society organizations are with us. We should all support this decision. We should all put effort for the progress and the implementation of this investigation".

Inviting women to be more courageous to exercise their rights and men to advocate along with women,Guler Sabanci stated:"I wish that our artists, directors and writers continue their support even stronger for raising awareness on women's issues. I expect media representatives to reflect their sensitivity on these issues on their pages and screens more frequently. We should continue talking, reminding and repeating persistently".

The first guest speaker of the seminar, Sheryl WuDunn, who is the author of the books Half the Sky and A Path Appears, stated: "We all could be a bit more engaged in our own society and help bring about change" and continued: "Sabanci's focus on innovation and entrepreneurship fits very well with the research that we have done showing how important it is to cultivate and support individuals who are creating ways to engage in social change and address social problems".

WuDunn reminded the saying of Lu Xun, the Chinese essayist, "Hope is like a path in the countryside. At first there is nothing, but as more people walk here again and again, a path appears" and stated "We are developing solutions to fix many problems in society.  Each one of us can make a difference".

The second guest speaker of the seminar, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the director of Academy-award winning documentary Saving Face, underlined that women are constantly encouraged to think that being born as a woman means they were born with limited choices and compromised dreams and continued: "It alarms me that many women around the world are not even awarded basic human rights. But the more I search, the more I find women who have displayed an exceptional amount of bravery and determination. These are the women who are knocking down doors and shattering stereotypes by raising their voices to fight against long-endured injustices".

Obaid Chinoy indicated that she became a documentary filmmaker because she wanted to make socially conscious films, and continued: "I never studied filmmaking and, in fact, I didn't even know what a director's role was. I received so many rejections that I lost count. But with each ‘no', I knew there would be a ‘yes' somewhere - there had to be a door that I had not yet knocked upon. Ten years later, I was making an acceptance speech at the Oscars and all I kept thinking was thank god I kept knocking".


Journalist, Author, Half the Sky Movement Initiator

The first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, Sheryl WuDunn has journeyed through several industries, from banking to journalism and book writing. Most recently, she has written a new book, A Path Appears, about spreading opportunity and making a difference in the world. Previously, she was co-author of Half the Sky, about the oppression of women and girls around the world. Selected as one of Newsweek's "150 Women Who Shake the World in 2011," WuDunn has helped raise awareness about the challenges facing women. A highly successful business executive and best-selling author, she currently works with entrepreneurs in new media, technology and social enterprise at Mid-Market Securities, a small investment banking boutique in NYC.


Documentary Filmmaker

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is an Academy and Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker. Her work centers on human rights and women's issues. She spearheads SOC Films, a documentary house specializing in investigative and socially motivated content. Sharmeen is currently directing two feature films including Peacekeepers, a film about Bangladeshi policewomen who are serving as UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, and Sounds of Sachal, a documentary based on a jazz ensemble in Lahore. She is also the CEO of Waadi Animations, a company set up to produce animated feature and short films. Its first project is 3 Bahadur, Pakistan's first animated feature film, which will be released nationwide in the summer of 2015. In 2012, Time Magazine included Sharmeen in their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2014, the Asia Society in New York honored her with an Asia Game Changer Award.

For the written document of the seminar please click here...

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