|January 23, 2014 - Mayor Madeline Rogero will visit Turkey next week at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, to talk about the importance of women participating in politics and public life.
Turkey will hold municipal elections on March 31st. In advance of the elections, many political parties, nongovernmental organizations and civic groups are encouraging more participation by women as both candidates and voters. In a 2010 World Economic Forum survey, Turkey ranked 99th of 134 countries in women's political empowerment. (The United States ranked 40th.) No women currently serve as mayors of major Turkish cities, and less than 1 percent of all city council members in the country are women.
"I am honored by this invitation, and I look forward to meeting a wide range of officials and citizens in Turkey to talk about and encourage civic engagement," Mayor Rogero said. "This is an important issue all across the world. Women have made some progress here in the United States, but we are still underrepresented at most levels of government."
During her trip, from Jan. 27th - Feb. 2nd, Mayor Rogero will visit cities including Izmir, Adana and Ankara, the Turkish capital. She is scheduled to meet with the mayors of Adana, Bornova and Aydin. Kamil Okyay Sindir, the mayor of Bornova, is a leading voice for sustainability and green infrastructure in Europe. Aydin is the largest Turkish city with a female mayor, Ozlem Cercioglu. Mayor Rogero will also meet with members of Parliament who serve on a committee on gender equality and opportunity, as well as with other officials and civic groups.
In addition, Mayor Rogero will bring greetings from home to Tennesseans serving abroad at the Incirlik Air Force base outside Adana.
The trip is part of the State Department's International Information Programs, and the State Department will be paying all of Mayor Rogero's expenses. Accompanying the mayor will be her granddaughter Jada Torney, 17, a junior at West High School. (The mayor will pay for Jada's expenses herself.)
"This is a great chance for Jada to learn about the people, culture and politics of Turkey," Mayor Rogero said, "and an opportunity for some quality grandmother time."
Among other things, Mayor Rogero will talk about Knoxville's own Turkish community.
"We have an active and engaged Turkish community, and I have participated in numerous events and annual dialogue dinners hosted by the Turkish Cultural Center. Many Knoxvillians have traveled to Turkey at their invitation," Mayor Rogero said. "I am honored to be able to represent our city in Turkey."