Scholar puts poor women to work with TL 10,000

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Scholar puts poor women to work with TL 10,000
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Şubat 14, 2009 00:00

ISTANBUL - This summer, university student Ecem Erşeker will distribute $10,000 in microfinance grants to enable Anatolian migrant women living in squatter settlements in Istanbul to pursue self-employment opportunities.

Istanbul native Erşeker was one of six sophomores thıs month to receive the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The award provides a guaranteed summer internship, educational enhancement funds and up to $10,000 in funding for a social project of their choice. She is also eligible for up to $5,000 for two years of graduate studies.

Her project, called Micro Anatolia, will provide both economic and socio-psychological support for the participants. In conjunction with a major NGO in Turkey, the MF-Marmara Strategic Research Foundation, Erşeker’s project "Micro Anatolia" will give women in Istanbul "the chance to bring change to their lives through this small change," she told the university’s Daily Gazette last week.

Erşeker said she was inspired by her previous experience working with Anatolian children whose families survived in poor living conditions. "I’ve always been interested in children and women’s rights because I had a chance to work with children from Anatolian families who worked in the cities and now I want to work with their mothers," she said.

Through Erşeker’s project, women will be given seed money to start their own businesses and ultimately support themselves economically. An Economics/Asian Studies double major, Erşeker has both the theoretical and pragmatic skills to carry out her plan but admits that the cultural differences will be challenging.

Nonetheless, the reasons she gives for doing the project in Turkey focus on practical unity rather than adversity. "If there is a problem, you either do something about it or you don’t," she said. "I wanted to start from my own community, my own country."
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