We Refuse the Act on Social Insurance and General Health Insurance!!!
Author: Serap Güre; Translation: Kıvanç Tanrıyar; Editing: Esin Düzel
Act on Social Insurance and General Health Insurance, which should had been enforced by the Grand National Assembly, but the enactment of which was impeded for two years, became a part of women’s political agenda from November 2007 onwards. Before the passing of the Act in April 2008, women from many provinces had written assessment reports and articles, participated in debates on TV and in the radio, attended seminars, met with the deputies, organized signature campaigns declaring that this act was a violation of women’s rights.
The problem [women faced] was not only that they could not arrange a meeting with the governmental authorities. In addition, Minister of Labour did not allocate some of his time to listen the social security demands of the women, who constituted the half of the population.
In this article I will lay out what has been done up to now in the SIGHI (Social Insurance and General Health Insurance) campaign in order to make a note to its history.
• October 2007: Within the context of Novamed Strike Solidarity Platform, first discussions on the SIGHI took place.
• November 2007: KEIG Platform also started discussions on the act’s possible effects on women.
• BEKEV initiated a campaign in Buca, Izmir in order to stop the closing down of the clinic in the neighborhood; finally it was not closed down.
• December 2007: Feminist women made the act as part of their political agenda. Meetings were organized. We created a discussion group (firstname.lastname@example.org) in order to work on the act’sdraft version, and to form a politics for and concerning women. During the informative gatherings we discussed how the act would influence women’s lives and what it meant in terms women. Existing documents were gathered and it was found out that not a single institution had addressed the issue from the women’s point of view.
• January 2008: Women’s Platform on Social Rights made a press statement and placards with slogans. Weprepared for women-only and mixed demonstrations. In the Health for Everyone, Safe Future Platform’s demonstrations women’s demands were expressed. . In the quarters, bazaars, open and enclosed assemblies, the possible results of the enactment of the law were explained. Throughout the campaign we, as women organizations from every province, aimed that every woman shouldunderstand the meaning of the act, and that we should struggle altogether.
• February 2008: KEIG Platform prepared a report, entitled “What Kind of a ‘Social Security’ SIGHI Promises to Women?”, for feminists, trade unions, researchers, female doctors in order to assist the debates on the act, and published the report’s last version in March 2008 to be distributed.
• Firstly independent women associations, and then women’s branchesin the political parties, some associations and trade unions gathered against SIGHI in Izmir and formed Izmir Women’s Platform for Social Rights. At first, Platform conducted internal training and prepared publications concerning the act of “social insecurity.” With a presentation in the meeting with all the constituents in the Platform, it was aimed to construct a language which could be shared by everyone, and so we tried to gather sufficient information about this issue. These reports and statements were widely used.. A trainers group composed of doctors and lawyers gave lectures to women on the possible damages of the SIGHI act on women in sevenquarters where mostly workers lived, in Evka-2, and in Güzeltepe Women’s Counsel Center. Çekev invited women to panels after distributing declarations in the bazaars and houses.
• Muğla Women Working at Home Group and the independent feminists actively involved in activities in the SIGHI since February. As groups and individuals, who did not belong to a formal organization, we gathered during Novamed demonstrations and the group Independent Feminists was established. During the SIGHI process the structure of the Independent Feminists has been strenghtened as an organization, and also the relations with the group Women Working at Home has been developed. Besides, relations with women groups and, in general with women’s movement, have been consolidated.
• The women’s unit of EMEP in Çiğ organized panels in the municipal council hall after the elections of the branch of KESK for women’s coordination.
• In the March 8 meetings, the themes emphasized were femicide, decreased punity due to “unjust provocation”, the SIGHI, and the ongoing war in South East.
• On March 8 various activities took place within the context of the SIGHI agenda in Muğla. The statement, prepared in the mail group after a burdensome work, was declared in Muğla. Muğla groups copied the statements and mini posters, and distributed them in bazaars. They also hanged the posters in Muğla Center and in Akyaka.
• After our posting in Muğla, the city police, the mayor and the press gave trouble to us on the pretext that our posters were posted on the governer’s posters. Thus, all issues women were trying to raise were abandoned for an absurd and pointless discussion. Women from Muğla thus learnt their lessons from women’s movement regarding the relations with local authorities. Since March 8, non-governmental organizations, women working at home ,independent feminists, trade unions and the students in Muğla are trying to organize a more collective and organized oppositional movement. Muğla A Secure and Healthy Place for Everyone Platform, organized a day-long strike wearing T-Shirts having SIGHI logos on it.
• After the divisions within the Labor platform in March, DISK and KESK made a press statement claiming that “we did not compromise,” but women told them that the final statement did not address their demands. Thus, women read their own statements. Hence, two press statements were made.
• Further meetings and debates were organized in Women’s Solidarity House in Sekibaşı, which is located in a poor neighborhood in Muğla, as well as in other quarters, in women’s houses, where KEIG’s brochures were used. Women students and women from Genç-Sen participated in the press statement with uniforms carrying the messages about their demands about the SIGHI..
• Black Sea Women’s Solidarity Association participated in the press statements, firstly in the one of the Labor Platform in March 14, then in the one of KESK in April 1st. In April 3rd the association made a press statement with the participation of the Association of Journalists in Trabzon.
• Association of the Housewives in Adana, used KEIG’s report in their visits to the political parties, and houses in the neighborhoods in order to ensure that women knew about the act. They are currently working together with the women from trade unions.
• KADAV made a press statement in Kocaeli.
• The demonstrations against the Assembly, meetings and sit down strikes continued in all provinces. Hence public and press got to know why women opposed the SIGHI act ; but the government, by making some minor changes, passed the law.
• In the panel organized by the secretarial of Eğitim-sen women in Torbalı, training workshop group informed women on the SIGHI. A call was made to women to join the demonstrations against the SIGHI. Çekev, , participated inthe meetings organized by the Labor Platform and trade unions. Women from SES carried the platform’splacards.
• KESK Izmir women’s city platform organized a panel in 26 Nisan Konak Municipality Alsancak Culture Center.
• On May 1st in Izmir, the slogan “say no to SIGHI act which enslaves women to their husbands and fathers” was written on placards and purple paperboards, and were carried throughout all corteges.
• Independent Feminists and Women Working at Home marched in Milas with banners on which they had written with their own hands “Long Live Women’s Solidarity!” During the meeting they attracted the attention and support of the women on the street. Moreover, some of these women joined the cortege, and marched with them.
• In Muğla women, by wearing slogan-T-shirts, continue to make home-visits to voice women’s criticisms of the SIGHI as well as their demands.
• In May 2008, it was decided in all of the provinces to continue campaigning in order to prevent the enactment of the act.
In short, as the life goes on, women’s struggle keeps on going as well.