Women`s Contributions to Combatting Racism and Discrimination
3 August 2020 | YouTube Panel Discussion
On August 3, 2020, Set Them Free organized a YouTube panel discussion on the “Women’s Contributions to Combating Racism and Discrimination” bringing women from different ethnical and religious backgrounds together to discuss their personal experiences with the racism and/or discrimination, and underline how can women contribute to combatting this worldwide injustice by offering perspectives from their own view points.
The protests since the killing of George Floyd has, once again, have left our global community outraged at the injustice that racism and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion and culture causes to hinder the culture of peace. We, the human rights organizations, women’s rights initiatives should speak up, share our experiences, stand in solidarity and advocate for an inclusive global society. We must continue to combat any kind of systemic racism and discrimination. Equality and peace are interlinked to one another to foster inclusive societies. Women, as a stakeholder of development, have a very important role in peacebuilding.
At the “Women`s Role in Combating Systematic Racism and Discrimination” virtual discussion, experts elaborated on variety of topics moderated by Dr. Sophia Pandya, a Professor and Department Chair of Religious Studies at the California State University at Long Beach, California. Shea Graham, a Licensed Psychotherapist at Shea Graham LCSW, informed the audience on the psychological roots to racist behavior and discussed how we can respond more effectively to these causes. Graham said regardless of our differences “we are so close to each other that when my city burns, the smoke will hit your neighborhood. We need to realize that our faiths are tied to each other.”
Following her remarks, Vera Guzelsoy, a lawyer and a data scientist, discussed the current situation of forced Turkish migrants, who had to leave their homeland to escape persecution and discrimination created by the Erdogan`s government. Guzelsoy said persecuted individuals do not have freedom but we have; so, we have to speak up on behalf of them. She also added that in today’s world, populizm is as dangerous as discrimination.
Ellen Stromberg, the Regional Co-Coordinator of Sisterhood Salaam Shalom, talked about important contribution of sisterhood in combating discrimination. Stromberg said “I think there is a strong call for women to stand up for each other, to fight against the systemic racism that prevents quality housing, quality education and quality housing. I would like to think that building a strong coalition of women from many different communities, many different cultures can collectively speak out and find common actionable items that would make a difference. It won’t be easy but it is possible.”
Last speaker of the panel, Eylul Gunduz, a PhD student at the Dalhousie University, talked about the systemic discrimination that Kurdis people face in Turkey. She informed the audience with her own observations from the eastern and western region of Turkey to elaborate on the violence against Kurdish women in Turkey. Gunduz said Kurdish women`s coping mechanism against the discrimination they face is to strentghen their community gatherings and practice their culture.