Female Leadership in the Framework of Crises Management within the Scope of Aid to the Syrians (An Example from Ankara)
Author/s: Emel Topcu
Year: 2018 Vol: 3 Number: 1
On March 15, 2011 when the uprising in Syria began, no one could have predicted that the crisis would reach this dimension. When the first migration group of 500 people from Syria entered Turkey from Hatay’s Yayladağı border on April 29, 2011, the situation was regarded as a temporary one. Then the Syrians, coming in with a large migration wave, began to settle first in the cities along the southeast border, then all over Turkey. Turkey, which wasn’t prepared for such a crisis with this huge wave and its problems, has been able to relatively uneventfully cope so far without great fuss. Syrians could not legally be accepted as asylum seekers in Turkey. According to the Geneva Convention, which Turkey signed in 1961, only having people from European countries eligible for seeking asylum was placed as a geographical restriction. Hence, Syrians were first identified as “guests” for a temporary solution, then they were taken under temporary protection in accordance with Law No. 6458 passed in 2013. In this process, civil society organizations and individuals working as volunteers have successfully performed crisis management. As female organizations or as independent groups, women in particular have organized very quickly as a helping hand in this crisis. This study analyzes the foundation from the point of view of how they approach the problem and the solution methods they have produced. Nezahat Albay, through her leadership, founded the Gönüllüler Grubu [The Volunteers Group], which aims to be a helping hand for Syrians in Ankara. The foundation consists of a hundred volunteers, former students and friends of Albay. Women try to understand the events, problems, and needs using an empathetic approach. Statements like “What would I do if I were a refugee?” or “We could have also been in that situation?” were often heard from the volunteer women in this research. In this case, women have started their work by establishing empathy with Syrians and then increasing their awareness in the community that they have built together with the Syrians; lastly, they have begun to play a mediator role in general society. In this study, the terms of empathy, awareness, and mediation will be examined with respect to identifying and solving problems concerning this crisis. Furthermore, the following steps will be investigated: (a) women with empathetic behaviors mobilizing to help Syrians, (b) developing awareness, and (c) playing a mediator role. Accompanying questions like how they have evolved, how problem solving has been implemented, and how women have made a difference in voluntary activism by applying these steps will also be examined. In order to better understand the topic in this article, I have started by searching the theoretical background of the term “crisis,” the components of crisis management, and the qualities of female leadership with an explanation of transactional and transformational leadership.