Stopping Violence Against Women: The Women Behind the Movement (Part 3)

In the first two parts of this interview where I interviewed Cindy Dyer of Vital Voices and  Carol Kurzig of the Avon Foundation, we got a look at the different programs and initiatives that are taking place here at home to stop violence against women and help those who were victims of it.  But as I said before violence against women isn’t just a domestic problem but an international one where women around the world are doing something about it.  One such woman is Dr. Berna Eren of Turkey.  She attended International Women’s Day as a delegate this year and in this final part of the interview I got to learn about the organization she works for (the Human Resource Development Foundation), how this problem has affected the women in her country, and what is being done about it.

Berna Eren, MD, PhD Executive Director, the Human Resource Development Foundation


Dr. Berna Eren currently works at the Human Resource Development Foundation as the Executive Director. She began her work at the Foundation after 20 years of working at different levels and institutions of Ministry of Health as a physician and administrator.  Dr. Eren holds degrees from Marmara University Medical School, Anadolu University Faculty of Business Administration, Leeds University Nuffield Institute for Health, and Istanbul University Istanbul Medical School.

1. How have you and your foundation been involved in furthering the goals of awareness, education, and prevention when it comes to violence against women?

* Violence against women is a serious problem in Turkey. Between 26% and 57% of ever-married women in Turkey experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband in her life and these were on average twice as likely to have bad health as women who have not : about one in every 4 women who have been physically abused by their husbands reported injuries.

Therefore, HRDF conducted a project in 2005-2006 to provide in-service trainings to health service providers who initially encounter the gender based violence cases at the health facilities in 10 provinces in Turkey. The training program contained awareness rising on gender based violence, its consequences in terms of sexual and reproductive health and rights and expanding the use of specific examination and reporting techniques for these cases. Under the project we have trained a total of 274 health personnel and lawyers to become trainers who in turn trained a total of 429 people at the regional trainings. HRDF has also developed, printed and distributed A total of 10,000 brochures and 500 posters as well as 1,000 participants book and 500 trainers manual.

* Sex workers are one of the most-at-risk groups when it comes to violence, discrimination and HIV/AIDS. Their lack of access to legal, social and health services make them vulnerable. There are very few organizations, which provide any support or services for these groups.

HRDF has been working with this target group since 1995. In 2005, we have launched a project to support sex workers in Istanbul by maximizing their security and protecting their human rights/reproductive health rights and also to support their safe sex behaviour and therefore prevent STIs including HIV/AIDS. A counseling center called “Women’s Door” to provide counseling and trainings to these groups has been established in 2005. Under the project, sex workers are trained to become peer-educators; almost 4000 sex workers have been provided with training, 208 sex workers with counseling; a total of 27,731 condoms and 6,090 brochures have been distributed. Also, press conferences were organized and press bulletins were distributed to the members of press to raise awareness within this group for the sex workers and to decrease discrimination against them.

Although the above mentioned project is finalized, the Women’s Door is still functional as a counseling/social center and is being funded through different donors. Currently, HRDF conducts a project to promote of human rights of sex workers including transgender.

* Human trafficking has been an important phenomenon affecting many countries in the recent decades and it is an important violence against human rights. Turkey is a destination country for the countries in the region.
HRDF is the first NGO that developed and launched its “Combating Human Trafficking Programme” in Turkey in 2003. We are involved in combating human trafficking activities since then. The overall objective of our program is to contribute to international efforts and to enhance the national capacity of Turkey to prevent trafficking in women as well as to increase awareness of Turkish population on trafficking in women.  HRDF accomodates the foreign “victims of human trafficking”, who are identified by the law enforcement, at its shelter that is functional since November 2004 where the VoTs are provided with psychological counseling and medical support.

HRDF implements training programs and/or workshops on human traffciking targeting different stakeholders including law enforcement, judiciary staff, health personnel; and also has developed several information materials including brochures, posters and booklets as well as providing input for some others in the context of its anti trafficking program. Our experts participate at many national and international meetings to present HRDF’s anti trafficking activities and to discuss with other stakeholders about durable solutions for the ongoing problems regarding human trafficking.

2. What unique challenges do the women of Turkey face when it comes to violence against them?  What progress has been made and what changes still need to be made?  How does the Human Resource Development Foundation plan to help bring these changes about?

Gender-based violence constitutes one of the major mechanisms through which women, gays and transsexuals/transgenders are excluded from social, economic and political life in Turkey. A recent survey shows that about half of the women living with violence have never told anyone of the abuse before being interviewed showing that partner violence is very much a hidden problem and that women find it difficult to talk.

In Turkey, General Directorate of Women’s Status has been founded in 1990 under the State Ministry, their mission is to develop policies and strategies to empower women and to prevent discrimination against women as well as collaborating with the stakeholders and to coordinate the activities in this endeavour. HRDF is one of the partners of the General Directorate.

HRDF is dedicated to continue with its efforts to develop activities, strategies and advocacy efforts to empower the most-at-risk groups.

Photo courtesy of: Avon


Stopping Violence Against Women: The Women Behind the Movement (Part 2)


I’m taking a break from my normal beauty and fashion stuff to bring you the second part of my interview of the women who are striving to end all violence against women here and abroad.  As I told you ladies last time, I basically asked these women a little bit about themselves and the organization they work for and then about their views on the current state of affairs when it comes to violence against women.  The first woman I interviewed was Cindy Dyer of Vital Voices. This week, I’m bringing you my interview with Carol Kurzig, the President of the Avon Foundation for Women.


Carol Kurzig, President of the Avon Foundation for Women


Carol Kurzig joined the Avon Foundation for Women in January 2004, and currently serves as its President.  Carol is responsible for the development and implementation of the Foundation’s strategic mission, its fund-raising and grant-making programs. Prior to joining Avon, Carol served as President of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s New York City Chapter for 20 years. 


1. As President of the Avon Foundation, what goals of you set for your foundation this year and how to do you plan to meet them?

The Avon Foundation for Women has been improving and saving women’s lives since its founding in 1955, and, in that time, Avon global philanthropy has raised and donated more than $725 million worldwide for causes that are most important to women. Today the Foundation’s mission is focused on ending breast cancer and domestic violence, and assisting those impacted by these issues.

The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, a global movement launched in 1992, is focused at accelerating breast cancer research and improving access to quality care for all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. This year’s Avon Walk Around the World events will be held to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer in more than 50 countries, and Avon Pink Ribbon Products will be sold to further support awareness and fund raising efforts globally. Avon is proud to be the largest corporate supporter of the fight against breast cancer.

The Avon Foundation launched Speak Out Against Domestic Violence in 2004 to provide funding to domestic violence organizations for awareness, education, and prevention programs, as well as direct services for victims. Since then, Avon global philanthropy has committed more than $18 million to end violence against women, including $8 million from the global sales of the Avon Empowerment Products.  

To continue this momentum, earlier this year Avon launched the new Empowerment Ring during a Global Summit focusing on ending violence against women held in Washington, DC. The Women’s Empowerment Ring, (priced at $5.00) is being sold through Avon Representatives in over 45 countries and on, with 100% of net profits ( $3.80 for each ring sold) going to support domestic violence programs. We will shortly add an Empowerment Pashmina wrap, as companion pieces to the Avon Empowerment Bracelet and the Women’s Empowerment Necklace, launched in 2008 and 2009 respectively, which together have raised $8 million globally. Our more than 6 million Avon Representatives worldwide sell these products to help raise funds and awareness, as well as to mobilize women and men to speak out against the violence that impact millions of women around the world.

In addition, this year’s innovative partnership with Vital Voices and the US Department of State, creating the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, established a unique cross sector collaboration that escalates the impact of our efforts and allows us to add our expertise to those of other organizations that share our goals.  These partnerships enhance our ability to leverage Avon’s unique resources, such as our fund raising capabilities and our grass roots connections to women around the world through our Avon Representatives, to raise awareness about issues of importance to women.

2. What progress has been made here at home as well as abroad since your involvement in this cause and what changes still need to be made?  How does the Avon Foundation for Women plan to help in bringing about these changes?

We continue to escalate our efforts to raise funds and awareness to reduce domestic and gender violence, both here in the US and in more than 50 countries. People are beginning to recognize the gravity of this global epidemic, as more organizations and individuals begin to raise their voices and speak out on this topic. But, we still have a very long way to go. Approximately one in three women globally is likely to experience domestic or gender violence in her lifetime, and this startling statistic  has a devastating impact on children, families, communities and the global economy, stunting economic growth at the cost of trillions per year in US dollars. Around the world, services for victims are often largely underfunded or nonexistent. Some countries have no laws to protect women, while in others, laws are not understood or enforced.

To address that need, last year the Avon Foundation launched the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School with a $1.5 million grant. This center works with judges, legal professionals, and governmental and non-governmental organizations to improve access to justice for victims of gender violence.  It also provides a comprehensive data base of international law relating to violence against women to further advance local efforts to protect women.

As I mentioned earlier, we recently held a three day global Summit in Washington, D.C., to launch The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women with Vital Voices and the US Department of State in March, 2010. The Partnership brought together delegations  from 15 countries  to create and share innovative solutions and develop new partnerships and  global and local action plans, to help address the need for serious, sustained, collaborative and culturally-sensitive local solutions that can change the all too daunting  statistics in a measurable way. We were inspired by the extraordinary women and men who participated. We are hopeful that with committed partners we can make a difference.

Photo courtesy of: Avon

Stopping Violence Against Women: The Women Behind the Movement


Back in March I had the awesome opportunity to cover International Women’s Day and if you ladies remembered, the cause of the day, as well as that whole week was stopping violence against women.  The Avon Foundation, the Vital Voices Global Partnership, as well as the US State Department played a huge role in the success of the events and I had the opportunity to interview three women active in supporting this cause 365 days a year – Cindy Dyer from Vital Voices, Carol Kurzig from the Avon Foundation, and Dr. Berna Eren from the Human Resource Development Foundation in Turkey.  I first asked each of them to talk a little about their roles in their organization and their opinions on the progress that has been made in the fight to end violence against women.  Their answers were so remarkable and so full of great information, I had to divide this story up into three parts!  (so make sure you stayed tuned by subscribing so you won’t miss a thing!)


Cindy Dyer – Senior Director for Human Rights Programs at Vital Voices Global Partnership


Cindy Dyer joined Vital Voices Global Partnership as Senior Director for Human Rights Programs in January 2009. Prior to her current position, Cindy Dyer served as the Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, a position she was nominated for by President George W. Bush.   

1. How does your role as a Senior Director of Vital Voices differ from that of a Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women? In some ways my role is similar and in some ways it is different.  Both positions allowed me the privilege of working with amazing women and men who are collaborating to end violence against women.  Additionally, both positions allowed me to use my experience as a specialized violence against women prosecutor to help other communities keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.  The main difference is that at the Department of Justice of worked primarily with communities in the United States; while at Vital Voices, I am working with communities in other parts of the world.  As part of our global work, Vital Voices recently partnered with Avon to announce The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women. This innovative collaboration with the U.S. State Department combats the most destructive types of violence against women and helps ensure justice for women and girls worldwide. As part of the Global Partnership, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women announced $1.2 million in donations to Vital Voices and brought together 15 country delegations consisting of leaders from diverse sectors in a first-of-its-kind global forum to share insights, forge collaborations, and seek ways to overcome challenging cultural realities that have been barriers to progress. Currently, Vital Voices and the Avon Foundation for Women are supporting these delegations since they returned to their home countries with regional programs and a toolkit that can be used on a year-long basis as action plans are implemented.

2. What progress has been made here at home as well as abroad since your involvement in this cause and what changes still need to be made?  How does Vital Voices plan to help in bringing about these changes?   The changes that have occurred in the United Stated since the passage of the first Violence Against Women Act in 1994 have been remarkable.  Over the 16 since years since that Act passed, there are more services available to victims, there are more successful investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators, there is more awareness about the problem of violence against women and the help that is available, and there is greater intolerance for this crime in society as a whole.   Vital Voices is taking the lessons learned from the United States; from the shelter movement of the 1970’s, the Violence Against Women Act successes of the 1990’s, and the response to modern day slavery and human trafficking from the 2000’s; and combining them with other best practices from around the world,  to help communities create coordinated community responses and effective public private partnerships that will create a safer world for our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. As I mentioned previously, our recent Global Partnership between Avon, the Avon Foundation for Women and Vital Voices is working to find stainable solutions to end the world’s worst forms of violence against women including sexual violence, domestic violence and human trafficking.

Photo courtesy of: Avon

Supporting Women in Need is a Beautiful Thing: The Latest at the Avon Foundation

If you followed my coverage for International Women’s Day last March, you already know how passionate I am in supporting our fellow ladies in need and I’m happy to say that Avon continues to do just that!  Here’s what the peeps at the Avon Foundation for Women have been up to!

Avon Walks for Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer awareness just isn’t for October.  It’s something that should be discussed and supported all year round!  Starting this April, this beauty company is launching Avon Walks for Breast Cancer will where it wants to get the support of everyone for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.  This two day, 39-mile walk is taking place all over the country to help raise money for this cause that affects both men and women!  To help get my divas involved, Avon has offered my readers on Fierce and Yahoo!Shine a special registration fee of $45 (it’s normally $65) from now until April 14th.  All you have to do is enter the promo code walk3 at Doesn’t leave much time ladies so check out the dates and cities where you can participate! For more info on the event and activities, visit!

The Avon Empowerment Product Line

In the spirit of spreading awareness and empowering women in an effort to stop the spread of violence against women, Avon’s embassador Reese Witherspoon has launched the Empowerment line.  This collection includes great accessories and a new Empowerment T-shirt.  Prices range from $3 to $15 and 100% of the net proceeds will go the Avon Empowerment Fund, whose goal is to erradicate violence against women all over the world.  You can look great and support a great cause at the same time!  Shop here to do your part.

In these photos, I’m rocking the Empowerment T-shirt ($15), Unisex Bracelet ($3), Empowerment Bracelet ($3), and the Empowerment Necklace ($5).

Photos courtesy of: Avon

FTC Disclosure:  Avon products that used for review were received as free samples from Avon.

Fierce for a Cause: Interviews from the Delegates at International Women’s Day in D.C

Violence against women just isn’t an American problem.  Women are being abused, violated, and denied basic human rights all over the world.  Women representing countries from all over the globe were in attendance at the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women to talk about the issues affecting women where they come from, learn from each other, and bring home new strategies to help and empower the women in their communities.

Here’s a peek into their experiences at the conference!

Senior Magistrate, Asha K. Ramlal from the Department of Justice Republic of South Africa Magistrates Commission and National Coordinator: Thuthuzela Care Centres Sexual Offenses and Community Affair Unit, Ms. Pumeza Mafani, speak of the challenges their country faces and the best practices they hope to learn at International Women’s Day.

Delegates from South Africa, Bahrain, Pakistan and Afghanistan, speak of the challenges their country faces and the best practices they hope to learn at International Women’s Day  

Videos courtesy of: Avon

FTC Disclosure:  I am being compensated by Avon for my coverage of the conference’s events.

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