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Turkish teacher speaks at the UN

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Dilek Livaneli, our Turkish mother tongue teacher, was invited to speak to the UN Commission on the Status of Women on March 8 2023, International Women’s Day. Dilek spoke about the challenges and the opportunities to achieve gender equality and to empower rural women and girls through education.

Dilek has been carrying out inspiring volunteer work for the Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF) for 5 years, and through her work with BTF she hopes to raise money to provide 100 school sponsorships for girls in rural Turkey, to mark 100 years of the Turkish Republic.

Here is Dilek’s story of her recent visit to New York, Washington and Chicago:

On my first day at the UN, women from 173 countries gathered in the main hall where a United Kingdom desk was reserved for me. Even though I'm a Turkish representative, being registered for the UK desk made me feel proud as I work for the International School of London and live in London.  The introductions took place briefly in the main hall and later parallel events began for International Women's Day in seven different halls, with representatives from all over the world. At the UN BTF meeting, I shared my teaching story and explained my purpose: the Republic of Turkey is 100 years old and this year I am raising money to support educational scholarships for 100 female students who were particularly affected by the earthquake.  In addition, I am building a container classroom in the centre of the ‘tent cities’, which is essential now following the devastating earthquake in Turkey. 

After my speech at the UN, I was invited to visit Google at their HQ in New York.  I met the Ellen E. West team to discuss how we could support education via a technology project in the earthquake zones and take advantage of their generous donor matching scheme. I am so happy that we were able to agree that when I have set up one or more container classrooms, Google will provide technological support for internet connections and the supply of computers.


I felt that my trip to New York was very productive, particularly as I was invited to speak about my project at future events in China, France, Pakistan and Iran.  Everyone was very willing and enthusiastic about cooperation, so I can continue to push forward with the fundraising.

After two days in New York, I went to Washington at the invitation of the Turkish embassy in Washington and the US State Department. Here I was presented with a leadership award, which is made to women who do important and influential work globally.  I gave presentations in both Turkish and English in the historical embassy building and I received an invitation from the Turkish community working at the Washington World Bank.  Following meetings with both the World Bank and the IMF I was thrilled to secure a $25,000 budget for the student scholarship.  

Finally on this trip I visited the Turkish Consulate in Chicago and made a speech touching on important points regarding my work.  I was hosted by the BTF volunteer Turkish community and had the opportunity to share my story to another large audience.

I am so privileged to be able to meet these influential people who can help me and BTF with raising money for the vital project of educating girls and women, and I am looking forward to a fundraising event at ISL in May to raise money for those students affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. I know that the ISL community will want to support this worthwhile cause and I feel lucky to be part of such a warm and generous community.

Turkish teacher speaks at the UN
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Turkish teacher speaks at the UN
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