NEW YORK—On November 3, the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) presented the third annual Joan B. Dunlop Award to Pınar İlkkaracan for her exceptional record of work in Turkey and globally to promote the human rights of women and girls.
Named after IWHC’s founder and first president, the award is presented annually to an activist who works in difficult settings to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. İlkkaracan is the third recipient of the prestigious award. Past recipients are Nigerian activist Adenike Esiet and Indonesian activist Ninuk Widyantoro.
“Pinar İlkkaracan is a true champion for the human rights of women and girls in Turkey and beyond,” said IWHC President Françoise Girard, who presented the award during IWHC’s annual dinner. “Her vision, strategic action, and determination have transformed Turkish law, benefiting millions of women. For her courage, integrity, and passion, the International Women’s Health Coalition is pleased to call Pinar a partner in the global fight for women’s rights.”
In accepting the award, İlkkaracan said, “This award is very special to me, at a time when many of the reforms we’ve won for women’s human rights have come under attack. It is a reminder that, despite our current challenges in Turkey, women’s rights have advanced very far in the past 20 years. We will continue to fight for full gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights for all.”
About Pınar İlkkaracan: Pinar İlkkaracan is a leading women’s rights activist and researcher based in Turkey. She has founded several organizations, including Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR)–NEW WAYS and the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, a network of 45 academic and non-governmental organizations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. She is also the co-founder of the Berlin Initiative against Violence against Women (BIG) and AZRA, the International Association against War Crimes against Women.
As President of WWHR–NEW WAYS, İlkkaracan led the Turkish women’s movement in successful campaigns for gender equality, including enactment of a domestic violence law and reforms of the national civil and penal codes to more fully respect women’s rights. In 1995, she developed the Human Rights Education Program for Women in Turkey, which has been implemented in cooperation with the Turkish Directorate of Social Services for the past 20 years and has reached tens of thousands of poor and lower-education women. The program was recognized for “Best Tactics in Human Rights” by the Center for Victims of Torture and the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly.
İlkkaracan has participated in many UN conferences as both an official member of the Turkish governmental delegation and a representative of WWHR–NEW WAYS. Her effective participation has helped secure global agreements on women’s human rights and sexual and reproductive rights. Most recently, she played a key role in advocating for gender equality to be a priority in the Sustainable Development Goals.
İlkkaracan is the editor of Women and Sexuality in Muslim Societies (translated into Arabic and Turkish), Human Rights Education for Women: A Training Manual, Deconstructing Sexuality in the Middle East and The Myth of the Warm Home: Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse as well as the author of numerous articles on women’s human rights, law reform, violence against women, sexual violence, sex workers, sexuality and sexual and reproductive rights. She received the prestigious International Women’s Human Rights Award of the Gruber Foundation in 2007.
About the Joan B. Dunlop Award: The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) created the Joan B. Dunlop Award in honor of its first president. A charismatic and courageous leader, Joan Dunlop extended IWHC’s reach and shaped its crucial role in global policy development during her time as president from 1984 to 1998. In tribute to Joan’s extraordinary legacy, the award is presented annually to a deserving activist working to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in developing countries. Along with a cash prize of $7,500, the award provides well-deserved support and recognition to activists who work under difficult circumstances to fight for the right of women and girls to control their fertility and bodies.