Equipping civil society to advance human rights in Türkiye

HURIDOCS and AMER unite stakeholders at a workshop in Ankara to protect and promote economic, social and cultural rights.

By Alejandra Kaiser on

In an ongoing collaboration dedicated to empowering minority communities in Türkiye, HURIDOCS and the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights (AMER) are co-leading the European Union-funded project “Strengthening cross-sectoral partnerships to advance economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights of disadvantaged groups.” Through a comprehensive two-day workshop held in Ankara in December 2023, the project seeks to enhance cross-sectoral collaborations and promote the economic, social, and cultural rights of marginalised communities in the country.

The workshop brought together 17 participants, including local municipalities, project staff and the three selected sub-grantees announced earlier in October 2023. They include Romani Godi, an organisation working on children’s access to education after the 6 February 2023 earthquake;  Flying Broom Association, an organisation working on access to education and preventing early marriages of Roma and refugee girls affected by the earthquake, and Sulukule Volunteers, who work on free nutrition and equal education for children in the region.

During the two-day event, participants engaged in conversations on the reality of ESC rights and delved into the world of documentation and monitoring of human rights violations. They also actively participated in group work and addressed the challenges faced by disadvantaged groups in the country.  With the support of the European Union, this three-year-long project seeks to equip civil society actors and human rights defenders with the knowledge and skills to advance human rights in Türkiye. 

“I recognize many organisations’ challenges, such as limited advocacy resources. This project empowers us by providing us with critical tools and knowledge for data collecting and documentation. This can significantly enhance your advocacy efforts, especially if you have limited resources, by increasing your evidence foundation and allowing for more targeted campaigns. Furthermore, given Turkey’s economic and social rights situation, this type of advocacy is more vital than ever.” — Representative, Romani Godi

The workshop focused on innovative monitoring, data collection, protection, and management techniques to tackle widespread discrimination against minority groups and advance their economic, social, and cultural rights (ESC rights). 

This event also fostered among participants the need for collective action to address the widespread discrimination and violations of marginalised groups’ ESC rights. By building synergies with other initiatives and harnessing state-of-the-art solutions, this aims to foster collaborative, peer-to-peer work, increase reactivity to volatile human rights situations, and promote evidence-based advocacy. The workshop also aimed to enhance cross-sectoral partnerships to ensure that disadvantaged groups have equal access to education, employment, health, housing, and essential services.

“It was a pleasure to come together with the other partners of the project, listen to their work and chat with them. It is inspiring and empowering to come together in this way with people we work in similar fields. I had the opportunity to meet experienced and competent people in their fields. Just chatting with them was very instructive.

As for the sessions, although there are topics that I constantly come across in different trainings, I think I learnt something different while listening here. The primary reason for this is the facilitators of the sessions. They were all really experienced and knowledgeable. I gained a different perspective on what a monitoring study is, how it is based, and why it is done. The work carried out by the HURIDOCS team on the second day also stayed in my mind. As soon as we returned, we came together as cluster members and implemented it ourselves.” — Coordinator, Sulukule Volunteers

The collaboration between HURIDOCS and AMER forms the core of this project on ESC rights, and is supported by the European Union. HURIDOCS brings technical expertise and more than four decades of experience in documentation and advocacy, while AMER contributes a profound understanding of the Turkish context and a commitment to advancing the rights of disadvantaged groups.

In the coming months, the project will focus on setting up digital information repositories for civil society organisations and human rights defenders to monitor, document, and manage information on violations of ESC rights. Additionally, training will be provided on the use of digital tools for data collection, protection, and management. The findings from these efforts will be presented at a policy forum to advocate for the ESC rights of disadvantaged groups in Türkiye.

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