"Well, in Turkey, in the circle that we are in, there was direct contact between women's organizations and feminist women in academia, because we had come from those women's organizations or we often planned things together with [...] women's rights organizations: education programmes, [...] panels, discussion groups, or actions. [...] Most of the lecturers teaching women's studies at our universities were actually women who were somehow connected to women's rights organizations. In a sense they were activist women." (Sancar 2014)
In this interview passage generated in the framework of the project "Comparing women's movements in different cities in Turkey", Serpil Sancar, professor of political science and director of the Women's Studies Center (Kadın Sorunları Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi) at Ankara University, describes the historically close relationship between institutionalized women's and gender studies and the feminist movement in Turkey.
Social scientist Nermin Abadan-Unat, who also worked at Ankara University, organized an international congress on the status of women in Turkey as early as 1978. Furthermore, women's studies were integrated into different disciplines. But it was not until the formation of an independent feminist-oriented women's movement in the 1980s that feminist discourses were institutionalized as a teaching and research area in the academic system. Thus, feminist and activist academics founded the first Women's Studies Centres in 1989 at Istanbul University and established master's programmes on women's studies at universities in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Beside offering a critical approach through the Women's Studies centres, it was especially within the master's programmes that feminist critiques were applied to social sciences as well as the political and social agenda in Turkey.