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Turkiye women in Belgium tell secrets behind success

March 7, 2023 at 3:11 pm

Women take part in a march during the International Women’s Day [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

Determined and consistent effort, despite discrimination and difficulty, is key to building a successful career, according to Turkish women living in Belgium, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Speaking to Anadolu ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, two Turkish-origin Belgian women, Oncologist Dr. Sevilay Altintas, and lawyer Yeliz Karaca, recounted their paths to success and how they overcame hardship through the years.

Now working at Antwerp University Hospital, Altintas was only 3 years old when her parents arrived in Belgium, with her mother playing a significant role in her future success.

“If you’re a successful mother, you’ll change the world. My mother is a primary school graduate and a very successful woman. She raised six children.”

For Altintas who, in her career, has also received a distinguished award from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for her work on the disease, her mother’s hard work and success had an impact on her success as well.

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“When I get a negative comment, I try harder to succeed,” she said.

After last month’s devastating earthquakes in southern Turkiye, Altintas also took part in relief efforts at a field hospital sent up by Belgium in the disaster zone.

Altintas is also politically active in the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party and a member of the Antwerp Metropolitan Municipality council.

“Thanks to politics, I had the opportunity to reach families and young people on large platforms,” ​​she said.

Noting that she has faced open racism a few times, Altintas said that, despite this, she has always had a positive outlook on life.

“My positive energy and thinking saved me. In the end, my surname is Altintas, not Pieters or Janssens.”

 ‘Studying in law is my childhood dream’

Yeliz Karaca, who is a leading lawyer in Belgium with her expertise in public and administrative law, provides legal counsel to institutions like Brussels Airport and the Bpost Belgian Mail Company.

Born in Belgium in 1981, studying law was a childhood dream for Karaca, who said that being a foreigner had always sparked an interest in making sure justice was served.

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“I’ve always felt that we have a representative duty. We don’t have the luxury of making mistakes. It’s like we always have to be successful,” said Karaca, who is a mother of three boys.

“In a country where our elders did not speak the language, we had to succeed,” she stated, underlining that determination is crucial to success, even if it means working more than others.

Karaca said that she, like many other Turkish-origin Belgians, has always been careful throughout her career not to make a mistake.

While obstacles, including racism, may appear on the way to success, Karaca said that such hardships could serve as opportunities to learn.

“Here, I represent our (Turkish origin) society. We have an extra identity. We’re both Belgian and Turkish. If we can reflect this combination in a good way … I think we can achieve their admiration.

“Life runs on a road full of turns. This isn’t something unique to us, it’s true for everyone. If we take these turns correctly, I think success will come out of it with the power of women.”

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