Celebrating Women's History Month: Nezihe Muhiddin (1889-1958), Turkish Feminist, Writer, Journalist, and Activist

March 24, 2023

Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul celebrates Women’s History Month with a feature of Nezihe Muhiddin (1889-1958), a Turkish feminist, writer, journalist, and activist who played a significant role in the women's movement in Turkey.

Nezihe Muhiddin's contributions to Turkish feminism serve as an inspiration for the work being done by Columbia and its partners around the world to advance gender equality and promote women's empowerment.

Nezihe Muhiddin 2

Nezihe Muhiddin was one of the founders of the Turkish Women's Union, which aimed to promote women's rights and education, and edited and wrote for the feminist magazine "Kadınlar Dünyası" (Women's World). Muhiddin was a vocal advocate for women's suffrage and one of the first women to run for political office in Turkey. Her contributions have had a lasting impact and she is remembered as a pioneering figure in Turkish feminism, despite being overlooked by official history.

Muhiddin was born in Istanbul in 1889 and educated in a French school (Kumkapı Sörler Okulu) before attending the American College for Girls in Istanbul. She pursued her education and became interested in women's rights and suffrage despite getting married at 18 and becoming a mother soon after. In 1913, Muhiddin helped found the Turkish Women's Union, which aimed to promote women's education, suffrage, and equality. She also edited and wrote for the feminist magazine "Kadınlar Dünyası" (Women's World).

Nezihe Muhiddin 3

Muhiddin believed that women should have access to education and be able to participate fully in political and social life. She argued that women's suffrage was essential to achieving gender equality in Turkey. Muhiddin wrote several books on women's issues that examined the role of women in Turkish society and argued for their equal rights. She saw women's liberation as part of a larger struggle for social justice and believed that women's rights could not be achieved in isolation from other political and economic issues.

Overall, Muhiddin was a pioneering feminist who made significant contributions to the women's movement in Turkey and challenged traditional gender roles and expectations.

Columbia University has a longstanding commitment to advancing gender equality and women's empowerment, and this is reflected in the work of its Global Centers around the world. Since its founding in 2012, from  “Bridging Academia and Activism through Gender Studies,” to “How did gender move to the center of democratic struggles?”, from “Mobilizing Memory: Women Witnessing,” to “Reframing Gendered Violence Istanbul Workshop Series,” Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul has organized numerous events and workshops focused on women's issues, including seminars on gender and journalism, workshops on gender-based violence, and discussions on the intersection of women's rights and political activism. Through its various initiatives, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul has been working to elevate the voices and experiences of women in Turkey, and to foster a more inclusive and equitable society for all.


Sources and photo credits: