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Nuriye Ulviye Mevlan Civelek


Nuriye Ulviye Mevlan Civelek (1893 - 1964) was the founder of the first Muslim feminist magazine of the Ottoman Empire, Kadinlar Dunyasi [Women’s World.] A trailblazer of her time, Civelek, who was also known by the names Nuriye Ulviye and Ulviye Mevlan, wanted to create a space for women to develop and be empowered through informed conversation and debate with their peers. The magazine was formed as the official journal of the Osmanlı Mudafaa-i Hukuk-u Nisvan Cemiyeti (Association for the Defence of the Rights of Ottoman Women), which was also founded by Civelek and held the unique status of being the first women’s organisation recognized under Ottoman law.


Kadinlar Dunyasi was published daily for its first 100 issues and weekly thereafter between the years of 1913 and 1921. 


Among the aims of the publication were to produce a magazine to give a voice to women of all social classes and ethnic backgrounds in the Ottoman empire, to exchange views and experiences with feminist movements outside the Ottoman Empire, to foster dialogue and solidarity among women on an international level and to actively contest problematic gender stereotypes. The writer Serpil Cakir has noted that ‘Kadinlar Dunyasi’ differed from other women’s publications, such as Hanimlara Mahsus Gazete, in that it gave a platform to women from all walks of life as opposed to just elite or literary women.


Kadinlar Dunyasi was also radical for its time in that men were not allowed to write for it. The editors reasoned that that ‘it would be more helpful if the men interested in furthering women’s status would write in newspapers that otherwise devoted no attention to women’s issues.’ 


The association organized symbolic shows of action such as the entering of a post office en masse by association members to mark the beginning of a struggle for Muslim women’s right to enter public offices. They also established a place of businesses for seamstresses to emphasize the importance of women’s economic independence.


The association’s work inspired two journalists from Europe; Grace Ellison from The Times and Odette Feldman from the Berliner Tageblatt to come to Istanbul to inform the public of their own respective countries about the Ottoman women’s movement.


Why shouldn't a woman, a future wife and mother, as talented, well-educated and intellectual as men, not be paid the same income as men? And why should she remain silent and passive instead of protesting for her rights to equal payment? It is this very passivity, my dear friend, which feminism cannot allow accept."

(Ulviye Mevlan, "Düşünüyorum ", Kadınlar Dünyası, 22 Mart 1918, no. 166, p. 2. Quoted in: Serpil Çakır, Osmanlı Kadın Hareketi, Istanbul, 2011, 3. Ed., pp. 373-374.)



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