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Turkish minister protests Israel over Gaza with UN walkout

The Minister of Family and Social Services Mahinur Özdemir Göktaş found a venue to vent her criticism against Israel at the United Nations on Monday. The minister walked out of a speech by her Israeli counterpart at a U.N. meeting in protest against Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Göktaş left the 68th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the U.N. headquarters in New York while Israel’s Social Equality and Women’s Advancement Minister May Golan was taking the floor to address the meeting.

Coming back to the hall after Golan’s speech, Göktaş said: “When discussing equality, we cannot ignore the ongoing humanitarian crisis as a result of Israel’s actions toward Palestinians, which lead to immense human suffering.”

Türkiye strongly condemns the attacks in Gaza, and reiterates its call for an immediate cease-fire and rapid and unhindered humanitarian aid, Göktaş said, adding that Ankara stands with the Palestinian people, considering that 70% of those who lost their lives are women and children.

“We need to keep the ongoing massacre in Palestine at the top of the global agenda and redouble our efforts toward putting an end to this tragedy. We must unite in our shared sense of pain and ensure that our voices are heard stronger and louder,” she said.

Göktaş recalled that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 is an “important milestone” in addressing the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflicts on women and the implementation of the key provisions of the resolution is “vital.”

Turning to women in Türkiye, the minister said Ankara has taken “gradual” steps toward further strengthening women’s rights while prioritizing family values through social policies. “In our fight against inequality and poverty, we adopt a human-centered approach … Women in Turkish civilization hold a respected place, and we are working toward further enhancing the equality between women and men,” Göktaş said. She highlighted that while the overall employment rate has increased by 12% over the past two decades, women’s employment in Türkiye has risen by 25% and said Türkiye also aims to assist young women in accessing employment, internships, training and entrepreneurship support. “We prioritize the promotion of women’s autonomy and empowerment both within our country and on the global stage, recognizing its significance for societal progress and international development,” she added.

Separately, on the sidelines of her visit to New York, Göktaş met with her Palestinian counterpart Amal Hamad to discuss the situation in Gaza. “We will advocate for a safe and healthy protected lifestyle for women and children all over the world, especially in Palestine. We continue to join forces for a free Palestine until the occupation and genocide ends in Gaza,” Göktaş said on X following their meeting.

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