By Zeynep GÖRPE, Fundraising and Communications Coordinator, Special Olympics Turkey
Dilek Sabancı, Honorary Chairwoman of Special Olympics Turkey, received an award honouring her inspirational efforts to combat taboos and stigmas around women’s health at the recent 2018 "Let's Talk" event in Antalya, Turkey. The two-day event was the initiative of Elbi co-founder and Special Olympics International Board Member, Natalia Vodianova, in partnership with UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.
2018 “Let’s Talk” brought together thought leaders, change makers and policy shapers who struggle with stigma and taboos surrounding women’s health. Ms. Sabanci, on behalf of Special Olympics Turkey, was awarded for the awareness she creates about athletes with intellectual disabilities and her support for the inclusion of female athletes in sports.
On collecting her award from Guest of Honour, Her Excellency Emine Erdogan, the First Lady of Turkey, Dilek Sabancı, said: “Years ago, when we started, our goal was to remove obstacles in front of individuals with special educational needs and to integrate them with their peers by considering gender equality. We were dedicated to promoting social inclusion of the athletes with intellectual disabilities through the unifying power of the sports. We used this power not for competition, but for integration. We will continue to work and to expand our Speacial Olympics Turkey family hand-in-hand.”
As well as award-winners, panels and speakers also took to the stage during 2018 “Let’s Talk” to assess how best to address attitudes towards critical issues such as menstrual, reproductive and mental health. Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President and Managing Director, David Evangelista chaired a dynamic panel on the role of sport in tackling discrimination.
The award honouring the work of Dilek Sabancı and Special Olympics Turkey has given the team courage and enthusiasm in their continued efforts to support female athletes. The Special Olympics Turkey team would like to thank all of their volunteers, athletes and dear teachers for their contribution. Life is beautiful when we Play Unified!