“Courage is contagious”: Tuluhan Tekelioğlu’s documentary “Yapabilirsin”

As is always the case with Tuluhan Tekelioğlu’s documentaries, her most recent one “Yapabilirsin” (“You can do it”) is also full of hope, positive energy and an unbreakable belief in the good of mankind. Colourful landscapes and rhythmic melodies serve as original background to this insightful documentary that is entirely dedicated to the power of women. Half of the world’s population is female. From the day they are born to the day they die, women in Turkey have to suffer from different kinds of discrimination. Especially in Anatolia. Today’s situation? In Turkish parliament, there are not enough female representatives. However, the crimes committed against women are constantly increasing. In one year, 40 000 child marriages took place. 1 out of 10 women in this country can neither read nor write. The number of women not working in Turkey is equivalent to the whole population of Greece. And this is only one part of the painful analysis this documentary provides us with. But Tekelioğlu also always looks at the bright side: She is convinced that women can break this vicious circle and change the world by not silently accepting their fate but by actively taking a step forward.

In “Yapabilirsin”, Tekelioğlu followed the paths of eight women who succeeded in making a difference in Turkey. Their social backgrounds, personal visions, dreams, passions and talents might be worlds apart but they all have something in common: strength, courage and self-confidence. Their success sets an example for other women by showing them that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself.

Gülsüm Kav is a doctor and the founder of the “We will stop the murdering of women” platform. She claims that even the most appalling crime committed against women is forgotten within a few days. During her struggles for justice, she saw almost every courthouse in Turkey from inside. She is striving for a world where women no longer need to live in fear of sexual harassment or any other kind of violence.

Altın Mimir comes from a part of Turkey where women are expected to give birth to at least one boy. To fulfil her function as a good wife, Mimir’s mother risked her life several times during difficult pregnancies. Women who give birth to girls only, are regarded as deficient. It is their fault that their husbands are disappointed and might betray them in order to finally get a son. When Mimir for the first time sees a woman followed by three men on the street, she is surprised. In the world she knows, women need to walk BEHIND men. From her mother she learns that this woman is an attorney. This is the moment she decides to study law.

Nuran Erdem shows us a place which is hardly visible on a map. “I wanted people to know about my village,” she says. From her early childhood on, Erdem loved to paint. Starting off by colouring chairs, she later on began to paint walls. As a free spirit, she draws what comes to her mind without listening to others. Her works are reflections of her own soul. When people ask her what she will do when her whole village is covered by her paintings, Erdem simply answers: “When I am done here, I will paint Turkey”.

In a sports discipline that was primarily reserved for men, Nazmiye Muslu Muratlı has become famous as Turkey’s first female powerlifter. Being paralyzed from the waist down, she can nevertheless lift almost 3 times her own bodyweight. Breaking the world record in powerlifting, she now symbolically stands for women’s strength. Her family never made her feel her disability: “If my parents had told me that society would regard me as different, I maybe would not have left the house”. Playing and fooling around with other kids, she learnt to live her life as if she had no handicap. Her passion and stamina enabled the sporting legend to lift 106 kilos.

Aslı Elif Tanuğur is specialized in food engineering. Her little son suffered from a serious illness which made her decide to search for alternative healing methods to replace his permanent antibiotic treatment. She discovered the positive effects of bee milk which strengthens the human immune system. However, comments like “You won’t succeed” or “You are just a woman” made it clear that she would not get much support for her project. In her own laboratory, Tanuğur managed to create a product that helped her son and many others overcome their health problems.

Berna Şen is Turkey’s first female pilot. She opened doors for other women in this profession. Among her passengers she came across elderly men who were doubting her personal capacities. During her professional training, she was one of 10 women among 200 men. Convincing everybody around her that she could do it was one of the daily tasks she had to undertake as a female pilot. When Şen was asked “Can all women become pilots?”, she answered: “If you think that all men can become pilots, I guarantee you that all women can.”

Entrepreneur Nuran Özyılmaz, music teacher Ece Apaydın, theatre group founder Ümmiye Koçak and many other women in Turkey and all over the world have been proving that creativity is their unique strength. Once again, Tuluhan Tekelioğlu managed to move us with her optimistic approach to painful realities. Her conclusion? Where women can laugh, society can laugh. After all, laughing makes us powerful. And courage is courageous. Together, we can do it.

                                                         Ankara, 07/05/2017                     © Mine Krause

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