We wore shirts made of fire

We dreamed of love

We were in every beauty

We are in the fight

And we will definitely be in the victory

(From KESK Women’s Secretary Hatice Pehlivanoğlu’s introduction to the KESK 1. Women’s Congress Book)   

When KESK women carried out general union activities and at the same time pushed forward their own organization, which started with commission work, to the level of the women’s secretariat with the establishment of KESK, they had gained nearly ten years of struggle experience.

In this enthusiastic struggle experience, which they call a de facto legitimate struggle, their awareness of gender inequalities in all areas of life and within the union increased, and they started to transform their awareness into a political consciousness with the first trade union trainings, the 8 March and the 25 November events, all of which they collectively prepared while gaining new experiences. However, they were still trying to convince their unions that they had different experiences of discrimination and oppression as women and that separate policies should be developed to eliminate them. The establishment of the Women’s Secretariat in KESK made their work a little easier, but there was still a long way to go.

They needed to come together as women, to share their experiences, to work on inequality and violence in all areas of life, and most importantly, to create a roadmap for the union struggle.

Both the first women’s congresses they organized in response to this need and the ones that followed had a very decisive role in the history of intersectional union struggle of KESK women.

Because these congresses:

  • were not events which were organized within a few days of work. Including preparations spanning a year, the congresses functioned as platforms for collective work, creating a common language and identity, education, organization and action.
    During the preparation, surveys were conducted, research was done, and meetings and panels were organized.
  • enabled unions to establish close relations with women public workers: Within the framework of the preparations for the congress, trade union activist women established close relations with women workers in the sectors while trying to identify the problems and demands of women in the different sectors, taking suggestions and sharing the results.
  • enabled the creation of a common identity among women from KESK in a horizontal, participatory and democratic relationship and working style: The women’s commissions organized in branches across the country kept in constant communication with each other and with the commissions and secretariats in their headquarters, and got to know each other.
  • made possible to share individual experiences and define them as a collective and political issue possible during the preparation processes.
  • deepened the interaction and collaboration of feminist academics which were members of Eğitim Sen, and KESK activists.
  • enabled KESK women to discuss common solutions to their problems arising from being both women and workers, and to create struggle strategies and action plans based on these discussions.
  • because of the worker and woman identity, did not evaluate the agenda of the struggle independently from topics on the general social and political agenda, such as democratization, a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, and protection of ecological balance. Violence against women, religious dogmatism, femicides, homophobia and hate speech were also among the priorities.
  • made possible discussing and creating action plans and determining a roadmap for the women at KESK. The decisions taken were carried to the general assemblies of the union.
  • enabled the decision for and implementation of the most powerful equality campaign.


Women’s Congresses held since the establishment of KESK

  • Tüm Maliye Sen Women’s Congress, under the slogan ‘We were, we are, we will be’
    17-18 January 1998
  • KESK 1. Women’s Congress under the slogan ‘We were, we are, we will be’
    20-22 February 1998, Ankara
  • Eğitim Sen 1. Women’s Congress under the slogan ‘Questioning and Changing’
    2-4 July 2004
  • KESK 2nd Women’s Congress under the slogan ‘We organize our promise; we change life’
    21-23 October, 2004, Ankara.
  • Eğitim Sen 2nd Women’s Congress under the slogan ‘We organize for our freedom’
    9-10 February 2011, Ankara
  • SES Women’s Health Congresses