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Turkey, like other countries in the world, encounters many problems due to rapid social change, urbanization and migration. Among these problems, intensive rural-urban migration, population increase, unsanitary settlements, services that are inadequate to meet the needs of a population with growing unemployment and poverty, lack of education are the main ones and they are more visible in shanty town areas of big metropolises.

HRDF’s main aim, as a civil society organization, is to contribute to development of the society and has specifically incorporated women’s empowerment activities into its programs in years. Right after HRDF’s establishment, one of the first programs implemented in different cities of Turkey was “Community Based Reproductive Health Program” and starting with 1998, this program was enriched with activities that are putting more emphasis on women’s empowerment. This improved version of the program was implemented in Istanbul, Gaziantep and Kilis.

1999 Marmara Earthquake was a big disaster and has activated whole Turkey. HRDF, like many other NGOs, immediately went to the earthquake region and initially established an emergency aid program and then improved it to become a long term rehabilitation program. This program implemented in Gölcük and surrounding areas was one of the longest duration projects of HRDF, sustained during the period of 1999-2006 and involved establishing and running the Ihsaniye Social Center. In this Center, support programs were provided not only to women but also to children, youth and elderly. Services included: psychological and social rehabilitation for earthquake survivors; PC and English language trainings for students, music and art classes for youngsters, kindergarten for young kids, vocational trainings for women; special activities for elderly and leisure time activities for all population. Later on a new component was added to this program where trainings on agricultural techniques for women and men were provided and sample orchards and equipped workshops were set up. After seven years of implementation, the Center and its affiliated units were handed over to the Municipality at the end of 2006. Another project that has been implemented in Golcuk as well as in Adapazarı and in Yalova was parent school partnership project where, parents were empowered to contribute to their children’s school education by becoming members of parent teacher councils or by helping with the needs of the schools in a collaborative manner etc. HRDF collaborated with partners for the implementation of this program.

HRDF has implemented a series of activities, to empower squatter house dwellers to actively participate in upgrading their own neighborhood and to support them in their integration into the urban life in Ankara/Yenimahalle Şentepe district in 2003–2004.

HRDF, using its previous experience has undertaken the task to establish a Social Center in Istanbul’s Fener/Balat district. Social Centre Component was part of the larger “Rehabilitation of Fener and Balat Districts – Istanbul Programme”, which was funded by the EU. The overall objective of the Program was to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Fener and Balat districts of the Municipality of Fatih-Istanbul. The Social Centre component of the Program aims to increase access by women, children and the youth to basic social services to develop the sense of belonging and coexisting in the same neighborhood.

HRDF, prioritizes supporting women’s empowerment not only in community development projects but in all of its programs.


HRDF, following the 1999 Marmara Earthquake in Gölcük, has established a scholarship system that brings together students and private donors together. HRDF has been mediating this financial support program for years for anonymous donors and various firms.