Following in the footsteps of other cities in Turkey, Istanbul began to train it’s first female firefighters on Monday.
The 50 women, eager to secure their new role, worked alongside their male counterparts by completing tasks such as rolling water hoses and weights, and carrying dummies to represent fire victims.
Istanbul Mayor, Ekrem Imamoğlu, watched the firefighter test at the Avrasya Show and Arts Centre and commented “This is a very exciting development for us. We have initially selected 50 women for firefighter recruitment and plan to hire 500 more staff this year.”
With increased funding and incentives, the Turkish Government is keen to boost opportunities for women to find employment, which is currently around 32% in the country.
Mr Imamoglu also shared his excitement for the progress being made in female employment. “We needed this recruitment drive as it has been a long time since the fire department hired so many people.” He said and stressed “Istanbul needs more firefighters due to its growing population and a faster response to fires and likely disasters. I am especially excited for women. Women and men should enjoy equality in opportunities in every aspect of life. Women can perfectly handle this job.”
Further good news for Istanbul was revealed yesterday by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), who reported that, for the first time since 2000, citizens of Turkey’s most populous city had decreased, with 56,000 fewer inhabitants than in December 2019.
Turkey’s most vibrant city has historically attracted people from all around the world, and reported some 11 million residents in 2,000. With a booming construction industry and continuing urban development, the population has continued to increase over the past 20 years, and, despite yesterday’s report, still has the country’s highest population density at 2,976 people per square kilometre.
Winter in Turkey
Although Turkey has a reputation as being a favoured holiday getaway destination, due to its warm seas and tempting beaches, many travellers to the country are not aware that temperatures during the winter months can plummet, with heavy snow in many areas. New settlers may be caught out, armed only with their summer wardrobe, and wonder how best to keep warm during the short winter months.
The answer lies with the choice of attire, worn by many traditional Turks, some dating back to Ottoman times, when Turks were nomads, roaming the harsh plains of Central Asia, but still worn in some regions of Turkey today.
- The Bork. Before the arrival of the Fez, the Bork was the choice of headwear by the Ottomans and Anatolian Seljuks. The bork is a felt or leather hat, usually trimmed with fur or felt, and currently seeing a revival amongst trendsetters, both in Turkey and around the world – most probably due to it’s prominence in the popular TV drama series “Dirilis – Ertugrul”. The hat is still produced in Turkey, particularly at Borkhan, in Konya.
- The Bornoz. Another way the Turks keep warm in the winter is the Bornoz, commonly known internationally as the bathrobe, which is reported to have been invented by the Turks, particularly in Bursa in the 17th Century, and is still a favourite in many Turkish homes.
Being a region which boasts many thermal springs and spas, Bursa is still a major towel producing region of the country and in many historical bazaars in Bursa, and speciality shops in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, you can find many stylish variations of this traditional garment.
- Carik. Turkey’s famous ‘Carik’ shoes, boots and sandals are also seeing a revival, again most likely due to their use in mainstream historic film series such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Alexander the Great, Troy – and even Harry Potter, which used these natural items of footwear, all of which are hand sewn and made from cowhide, lambskin and water buffalo.
Being waterproof, they protect the wearer from rain, snow and mud, and can also be worn in saltwater. Sometimes lined with a layer of clay, to prevent odour and fungus, the Carik is the perfect winter footwear for the harsh Turkish winters.
- Turkish women are well known for their love and dexterity of handicrafts and the humble sock, or corap is one area which has regained it’s popularity throughout the ages.
The brightly coloured hand knitted socks, which also double up as slippers, are famous worldwide and are widely available in many areas of Turkey, with each area having their own style of colour and pattern. There is even a sock museum in Beylikduzu, Istanbul, which proudly displays over 250 different examples of this basic, but staple, item of clothing.
- Kece Yelek. The Kece Yelek, or ‘felt vest’ is a simple waistcoat, traditionally made from felt with a zipped front and maybe a pocket or two.
The yelek was worn by farmers and herdsmen, working in the wilds of country, due to it’s practicallity and warmth, and utilised the felt which was produced by making use of the steam and hot water produced by the hammams, or Turkish bath.
The yeleks are widely available at Turkish farmer’s markets and even online, and one of the most well-known felt artists, Mehmet Girgic, was named one of seven Turkish Living Treasures by UNESCO in 2010.
- The Turkish Salvar is probably one of the most widely seen of Turkish attire throughout the country. Probably best described as the fore-runner of the sweatpants popular by the youth of today, the salvar are traditionally worn by both men and women in mainly rural areas of Turkey. These traditional baggy trousers, easily identifiable by their elasticated waists and gathered at the ankle, have been, and are still worn, by older generations – most probably due to their comfort and practicallity. Men’s salvars are generally black in colour but the ladies versions are brightly coloured and usually worn with equally bright coloured sweaters and long cardigans. Many fashion houses are offering similar garments today, under the name of Harem Pants which are seeing increased popularity amongst todays fashionistas.