Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) sought refuge in squatter areas and in the historic city center of Diyarbakır in the 1990s. Many factors such as inadequate housing, lack of access to services, chronic poverty, domestic violence and state oppression at the time resulted in a traumatic urbanization experience, especially for women. Alerted in the early 2000s to a high suicide rate among young women, local municipality together with a group of activists decided to offer assistance. By providing a free laundry service, the project managed to overcome cultural boundaries and male suspicion, lurking women into a safe space to socialize and learn. They later expanded to a network of five laundries with additional programs, including libraries, kindergartens, and workshops.
Today, the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality Center for Research and Application on Women’s Issues (DIKASUM) integrated the laundries into the city’s social inclusion policy. Men continue to be suspicious, but an increasing number of women are now more confidently asserting their rights. Through DIKASUM and other similar initiatives, Diyarbakir has accumulated a critical mass of innovative practices to provide refuge for women. The Women’s Guide to Diyarbakır, prepared with key local actors, expresses an increasing self-confidence, pride, and willingness to openly campaign within the city and beyond.Notes 1. Hisyar Ozsoy, H. Coşkun, Ö. Yasak, “Social Inclusion at the Margins of the City: The Case of Diyarbakır” (policy narrative prepared for innovative local policies for the Social Inclusion Conference, UCLG, Barcelona, 2007). Video by: Gunnar Köhne and Anne Misselwitz Guide By: Superpool with Yaşar Adanalı Superpool Team: Selva Gürdoğan, Gregers Tang Thomsen, Marta Marszal, You-Been Kim, Derya Uzal Type: Commission Client: IABR, Can Altay and Philipp Misselwitz Collaborators: Yaşar Adanali Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands Status: Completed