I’m Cemile Türkmen. I studied chemistry at METU and I am still active in the private sector in Istanbul. The Yellow Rag Women’s Platform is actually a platform that was established by me as a single yellow rag woman but we turned to a platform where women anonymously became “us” over time. Yes, I am the one who manages the page, makes the organizations, sends the books by cargo or replies to the messages, but we now become 78 thousand women that increase every day who are on the same page with me.
Why “yellow rag”, what is the message you want to convey?
I’ve always wanted to do something for women. Because there are many negative events that we see in the news every day in the global world, that we see hashtags on social media which makes us go out and seek for our rights. Apart from being upset for all this as a human being, I was more interested in developing and educating ourselves as a woman than other than being personally upset. Because I’ve always thought that the value of education would prevent women from being exposed to inferior treatment, and the mother, sister, sister, aunt, still, neighbors, sister, grandmother, grandmother, no matter what a woman is, she is equipped to shed light around her. This was my starting point, so I thought about what I can do except to be humanely upset for those who fall into negative situations, and I think that it is possible with reading, education and knowledge as I always believe it to be.
How did you come up with the idea of creating the Yellow Rag Women’s Platform? Can you tell us a little about the formation process?
As a matter of fact, it has a history of about 3 years but it started being active on March 8, 2019. We don’t have a steady place, because this is, as I said, a voluntary path alone, and I started to do my best because I’m still working on it. I thought of it from day one as a name. Because the yellow rag that we use is what we have in common regardless of brand; no matter how educated or not educated a woman is, or she being a housewife or a working woman, or young or old.
Some of us spend all day with that yellow rag, some of us use it for a shorter time, but the common point of all women is a yellow rag.
I call it that name by saying that this yellow rag is a common thing we use to make our car, house, living space hygienic and this unites us. I also got help from professionals for the logo, but there was a point that I wasn’t fully satisfied with even though they did a great job. One night, for the first time in my 40-year life, I designed a logo with a spirit of creativity that shows women are angels, even “Superman”s, and can do anything, and I finished my preparation by getting all the needed patents.
Where is the center? Can all women around Turkey be volunteers or beneficiaries of the platform?
Our center, like I said, is wherever I can pick up my phone. Sometimes I have domestic or international trips for work, or I take small breathing trips myself, but at that time I keep the page alive and the center is wherever I am for that moment; but as residence it’s in Istanbul. And as I said, it all started with “me” and became “us” in 8 months so that I can get good, motivating supports from everyone and so I think every day about what I can do more. In short, we all do everything together because I respect and think about each and every idea.
What kind of support do you offer to women? How many women benefit?
At first, I started by buying 2 more books or 2 more tickets for theaters as I bought for myself and gifting them to women. However, after a very short time, there were some writers and publishers who began to send their choices of books. In addition to supports such as books, theater invitations, trainings and seminars, we also support housewives who produce hand-made products by gifting them products with our logo to support them. It is very difficult to give a full figure, but the village schools were sent almost 2,000 books, including second hand books. Theaters are very supportive and so far we have sent invitations to 603 theater enthusiasts in 7 different cities.
I want to ask you about the support you received or the positive and negative comments…
Support never ends. My friends or family ask me if I ever get tired. I say no because I get such good messages, such wonderful comments from the book winners. Or I receive comments like “What can we do?”, “We started collecting books for you.” etc. And that leaves no mark of tiredness. Of course there are negative message as well, but at a rate of 1%. The common criticism of all is that woman not meaning a cleaning cloth. However, if they would spare two minutes of reading the page they will understand the purpose but instead they devote those 2 minutes to criticize. And sometimes I get messages about my misspellings, and I correct them right away, because I’m a good reader, but I sometimes make mistakes in writing, and I accept those as positive reviews. The other comments which are not about my spelling mistakes, as I said, are comments made without reviewing the page. I’m sorry, but I can’t take them too seriously.
The concept of women’s entrepreneurship in recent years shows an increase well in the world and Turkey. How do you contribute to women’s entrepreneurship?
I want to support women’s initiatives. I can do this on a small scale, as I mentioned before, with products with logos to support women’s handicrafts at home, because in the end I don’t have any additional income except for a payroll I work on. I share posts periodically for those who want to have advertising and promotion. I am able to talk about them and their works for free and make others see. Because getting paid by advertising from those women is contrary to my belief. Motivation and personal development training proposals were received from İzmir, Kahramanmaraş and Ankara. We are always open to such free training seminars.
What are your future plans and the things you want to do in the future?
The more I read every nice message, I think of what to do more. Books and the theater tickets will always continue, but if we have a sufficient budget, I would like to have trainings in every province for women’s development as well as yellow rag women’s libraries, interviews with writers, and all of them will be free.
What would you like to say to your readers or women?
As a woman develops herself, she is bliss to everyone around her. After we put the yellow rag aside, the book we start to read, the theater we went, a training we attend will be our biggest weapon in giving positive direction to another person. The greatest weapon against violence is conscious woman. We must work together to overcome this. Ahmet Mithat Efendi has a famous sentence: “Happiness cannot be bought with money but you can buy happiness to someone else.”, this is my starting point. I am sure that the world will be more livable when we all take it as a starting point. This is sometimes a book, sometimes a smile, sometimes sharing of knowledge. It is in our hands to make our society more livable.