March 8, International Women’s Day: Syriac Ayfer Koç receives Women of the Decade in Public Life & Leadership Award

ENSCHEDE, NETHERLANDS – The Syriac Ayfer Koç will be presented an award for inspiring female leadership from the Women Economic Forum. The “Women of the Decade in Public Life & Leadership Award” is awarded annually to women who serve as examples and inspiration for women around the world. The prize will be presented to Ayfer Koç on March 8, International Women’s Day.

Ayfer Koç holds a master’s degree in public administration, worked for more than a decade for the municipality of her hometown Enschede in different managerial positions, has her own consultancy firm and is currently acting as party chair of the Christian Democratic Appel political party in the city council of Enschede, the Netherlands. Ayfer Koç is mother of 4 daughters and married to Member of Dutch Parliament Pieter Omtzigt.

In 1980, although the family was well off, the Koç family moved to the Netherlands because;

“as Syriac Orthodox Christians, we were isolated in a hostile Islamic environment. It soon became clear to us that we did not really have a future there. As young kids growing up in Mardin, there have been times when they pelted us with stones. We were treated like second class citizens. At one point my parents decided: we are leaving. They did that for us, the children. They wanted to give us a future,” said Ayfer Koç in an interview to Dutch Visie Magazine.

When thinking back on her political achievements in the Netherlands, Koç is thankful to her parents and her new homeland;

“at the time in Mardin, it was unthinkable for Syriac people to enter politics or work as civil servants.”

“In my childhood there were still many Christian entrepreneurs in Mardin. Most are gone now. Everyone has left. I just did not recognize it anymore. Very sad, because Mardin used to be a Christian city, especially at the beginning of the last century. That old culture has been wiped out in a few years,“ she added.