The Purple Certificate Program Rewards Teachers on Gender Equality

Carried out by the Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender) with the support of the Sabancı Foundation for 15 years, the Purple Certificate Program continues to reward teachers and teacher candidates in the field of gender equality. Teachers and teacher candidates from different branches and classes were awarded at the Purple Certificate Program Gender Equality in Education Awards, which were granted for the second time this year.


During his speech at the award ceremony, Sabancı University President Prof. Dr. Yusuf Leblebici pointed out that that they were pleased to come together for the Purple Certificate Program Gender Equality in Education Awards just before Teachers' Day on the 24th of November. He added, “These awards have a special place as it is the first award program on gender equality presented to teachers and teacher candidates in Turkey”.

Prof. Dr. Yusuf Leblebici continued: “At Sabancı University, we have been carrying out pioneering studies in the field of gender equality since our establishment. In addition to academic freedom, we have principles that are expressed in our Non-Discrimination Statement, Sexual Harassment Policy Statement, and Domestic Violence Prevention and Support Statement. As of last year, we implemented the “Gender Equality Action Plan” that we had been working on since 2019 with SU Gender. We view the Gender Equality Action Plan, by which we aim to reflect our stance on gender equality in every aspect of our academic and administrative mechanisms, as a living project. The Purple Certificate, one of SU Gender's longest-running projects, accomplishes another important task by focusing on the education of future generations on gender issues through our esteemed teachers. The new generations who will grow up with gender awareness will be able to look at the world without the filter of differentiating themselves from their peers in terms of identifying the sources that feed inequalities. They will be able to gain the necessary awareness for a world without gender stereotypes and discrimination.”




During her speech at the ceremony, Nevgül Bilsel Safkan, General Manager of the Sabancı Foundation, said: “With the experience we have gained over nearly half a century, we know that ensuring gender equality and having women and girls in education and business life are the prerequisites for social development. The Purple Certificate Program, which is among our programs in the field of gender equality, which in turn is the cornerstone of our foundation's general approach and work, is very valuable to us as it is the most comprehensive and longest-running program we have developed in this field. The fact that there is no other similar program aimed at raising awareness of gender equality through teachers makes the Purple Certificate special. The Purple Certificate Program began its journey 15 years ago as a component of the United Nations Joint Program for the Promotion of the Human Rights of Women and Girls. Since its inception, the program has always had a structure that renews itself, develops, and learns continuously. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the program.”


The keynote speaker of the Purple Certificate Program Gender Equality in Education Awards, Program Jury Member and Boğaziçi University Faculty Member Aylin Vartanyan, said: “The Purple Certificate is more than an education certificate program: It is an advocate and supporter of a model which provides ethical lenses through the educational content it has offered over the years, which is egalitarian, and which invites participants to see students and educators as creative and productive human beings beyond the stereotyped expectations of society. It is important to remember at this point that the English word "education" comes from the Latin educare or educere. The “educare” approach has an understanding that includes a learning experience with mental or physical skills, discipline, and prioritizing students’ education in a discipline. Educere, on the other hand, proposes an understanding that guides the teacher's relationship with the student and serves the student's physical and mental well-being as well as the cognitive learning process. The Purple Certificate program tries to offer an experience that opens the eyes of the participants by providing the gender equality education with an educere approach, and invites the participants to create and share their own curricula by looking through the same lens.”



SU Gender Director Prof. Dr. Hülya Adak noted that the Purple Certificate Program was first organized by Sabancı University academics in 2007 as part of the United Nations Joint Program for the Promotion of the Human Rights of Women, and gradually came to play an important role in SU Gender's becoming a center of excellence. Adak continued: “This year, we are celebrating the 15-year adventure of the Purple Certificate together. In 15 years, we have reached over 5,000 teachers, and considering the number of students they reach throughout their lives, nearly 1,000,000 students. The content and scope of the Purple Certificate have grown and diversified over the years. The Purple Certificate was first organized for teachers and then for teacher candidates. Efforts to design educational materials were added to the education programs. From these efforts, classroom materials on subjects including literature, physical education, mathematics, and history were produced. Purple Files were inspired by the studies we carried out with teachers. One of the most important modules of the Purple Certificate was the Purple File workshops, in which teachers prepared classroom materials in their own fields.” Adak added, “In this award ceremony, which we held at the intersection of World Teachers' Day (October 5), Teachers' Day in Turkey (November 24) and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), we dream of creating an environment where we can unite all our efforts in the field of gender equality, and share our fight against violence and our ideals of an educational culture based on equality, diversity, and inclusion with all teachers.”



Within the scope of the 2nd Purple Certificate Program Gender Equality in Education Awards, the İpek Gürkaynak Creative Pedagogy Award was granted to guidance teacher Büşra Nur Serdar, who attended the Purple Certificate Summer School this year from Istanbul, and English teacher Berna Diblen, who attended the Purple Certificate Winter School this year from Hatay.

Elif Selçuk, a teacher of religious culture and moral knowledge in Denizli, who attended the Purple Certificate Winter School in 2021, and Huriye Yeliz Öztürk Lider, a teacher of philosophy in İzmir, who attended the Purple Certificate Summer School in 2022, won the Gender Equality - Egalitarian Practices Award.

Evrim Dilara Onat, a Turkish Language and Literature teacher in Istanbul, who attended the Purple Certificate Winter School in 2022, received the Purple Seed Award, while Nurbanu Yıldız, a psychological counseling and guidance teacher in Kayseri, who attended the Purple Certificate Winter School in 2022, received the Incentive Award.

After the award ceremony, a panel entitled “Gender Equality in Education and New Pedagogical Approaches” was held with the participation of the winning teachers.