Happy Mother’s Day!
I am a big fan of Turkish Philanthropy Funds. I might have a bias since my son, Mustafa Kemal Abadan, is one of the founders and serves on TPF board. But, beyond that, TPF’s commitment to philanthropy has never ceased to amaze and inspire me.
So, I hope you’ll join me in supporting TPF’s girls education initiative for Mother’s Day this year.
I am proud to endorse the work of TPF – supporting education, helping after disasters, giving individuals and communities the chance to succeed and so. But the issue that is dear to my heart is girl’s education. It is dear to my heart because I am who I am because of the educational opportunities given to me by the early Turkish Republic.
I am the first female academician who introduced political science in the curriculum of a pure male School of Administration ( Mektebi Mülkiye-Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi) following a Fulbright scholarship at Minneapolis, MN in 1952-53. I became the first female faculty member of the Political Science Facuty of Ankara University in December of 1953. Then, the first full female professor, the first chair holder of Political Behavior, the first director of the School of Journalism attached to the School of Political Science. I represented Turkey on the Committee of Equality of Women/Men in the Council of Europe, 1978-1993. When I started my academic career I was the only women. Today, in the same institution, which will celebrate its 154th anniversary on December 4, 2013, there will be 41 female faculty members out of 100. I first handedly know how your life can change if you’re given the opportunities to learn.
My grandparents were from Bosnia, Sarajevo. They moved to the Aegean province of İzmir at the end of the 19th century during the Ottoman rule. After my father, an export businessman, married my mother, Baroness Elfriede whom he met in Carlsbad (today Czech Republic), they lived in Vienna and was commuting from İzmir to Hamburg (Germany) where he had an office. I was born in Vienna. We moved to İstanbul in the late 1920s and stayed there until 1931. My father passed away unexpectedly that same year. After his death my mother took me to Budapest where my step-sister was living. I was put into a boarding school. But after a while my mother could’nt find money to send me to school. It was a devastation for me as I loved school and was a very good student.
Fluent in German (my mother tongue), good in French, later English and Hungarian but not knowing Turkish, at the age of 14, I knocked on the door of the Turkish Embassy in Budapest. I was reading in magazines about the new Turkish Republic and the reforms Atatürk and his colleagues were doing in the country. Due to the sympathy of the portier at the entrance I managed to be admitted to see the Ambassador. I told the Ambassador in French : “My father was exporting dry fruits and hazelnuts to Europe, being permanently away, and my mother having me tutored at home I do not know Turkish. But I want to continue to go to school. My mother says our savings are finished, she can’t send me to school. Please, send me to my relatives in Turkey, perhaps they can help me or send me there to school.” The Ambassador, Behiç Erkin, told me to come back three days later. I went back three days later. The Ambassador gave me a return passport, a third class ticket and some vouchers for meals on the train. My mother and step-sister learned about my decision only after everything was prepared. They hoped I would come back and bring some money to continue my studies. I boarded the train on November 6, 1936 in Budapest. I never saw my mother again – she perished during World War II.
After my arrival in İstanbul, it was the head of the police in Sirkeci who saw to it that I received an accomodation on a boat leaving for İzmir. My unannounced arrival at my uncle’s home caused great commotion. I moved from one relative’s place to the other and then finally settled in İzmir after I was admitted to the İzmir Girls’ Lycée. I worked in the summer of 1939 to save money for boarding school. After completing high school in 1940, I was accepted to the Law School at İstanbul University. I worked as a typist through college. After graduating I became a journalist and moved to Ankara, earning my life with my linguistic knowledge which by now was dominated by Turkish. I married my former professor, Dr.Yavuz Abadan, meanwhile a member of the parliament on May 8, 1946. For the first time, we became a family and I had a home in Turkey.
The rest is history. I’ve always wished all girls in Turkey could have opportunities like me. And, I have worked all my life towards that goal.
Turkish Philanthropy Funds doesn’t just create a temporary solution. It aims to fundamentally alter the way we approach the issue of women empowerment, triggering change that help women and girls build a better future.
Please join me in supporting the remarkable work TPF Team does in providing opportunities to women and girls in Turkey every day.
Make a tax-deductible gift today.
And, also join the online discussion by using the hashtag #thanksmom on twitter and on TPF facebook page by honoring and remembering your own mother.
We’re all in this together – it will take the commitment of you, me and others to face the big challenges of our girls in Turkey.
I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.