After spending a number of years living in two of the largest cities in Turkey – Izmir and Istanbul – I observed a wide range of inequalities which predominantly affected women and girls. During this time I became well accustomed to Turkish culture and way of life, I developed fluency in the language and lived within Turkish communities, thus enriching my cultural knowledge and experience. However, having divorced in Turkey and subsequently becoming a single mother, I experienced first-hand the stigma surrounding single parenthood, yet, at times I have been admired for my strength and resilience. I believe that research, support and action can not only help raise awareness of fundamental issues and gender inequalities, but it can also empower women to turn adversity into strength, challenge harmful norms and overcome discriminative barriers. I also feel it is crucial to consider the long-term impact of gender inequality and the need to improve conditions for future generations of girls growing up in Turkey.
My PhD will explore both public perceptions around divorce and single motherhood, as well as gain valuable insight from single mothers themselves through a mixed methods analysis. By exploring the stigmatisation of single and divorced mothers in Turkey, this research will not only contribute to an under-researched field by disseminating the research within the academic arena, but it will also add depth of understanding around harmful norms and practices that affect women, as well as provide insight into the wider cultural context in which the women are situated. The research will help identify the needs of single and divorced mothers in order to build an online accessible support network; a toolkit providing a safe space for women to share their experiences and support one another without judgement. This will subsequently help empower women to challenge harmful norms and overcome discriminative barriers by building confidence and enhancing their wellbeing.