Şafak Pavey

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Şafak Pavey

Şafak Pavey (cropped).jpg
Deputy Speaker of the Grand National Assembly
In office
9 July 2015 – 1 November 2015
Speakerİsmet Yılmaz
Serving withNaci Bostancı
Koray Aydın
Yurdusev Özsökmenler
Preceded byGüldal Mumcu
Succeeded byAkif Hamzaçebi
Member of the Grand National Assembly
In office
12 June 2011 – 15 September 2017
Constituencyİstanbul (I) (2011, June 2015, Nov 2015)
Personal details
Born (1976-07-10) 10 July 1976 (age 43)
Ankara, Turkey
Political partyRepublican People's Party (CHP)
Alma materUniversity of Westminster,
London School of Economics
OccupationDiplomat, columnist and politician

Şafak Pavey (born 10 July 1976)[1] is a Turkish diplomat, columnist and politician. She is a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) representing Istanbul Province.[2] She is the first disabled woman ever elected to the Turkish parliament, and is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[3][4] In 2012 Pavey was honored by the United States Department of State with the International Women of Courage Award.[3][5]

She resigned as a member of parliament on 15 September 2017, citing health reasons.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Pavey was born on 10 July 1976 in Ankara to Şahin and Ayşe Önal, a well-known journalist and writer. In 1994 she moved to Switzerland with her husband to study art and film. In 1996, Pavey lost her left arm and left leg in a train accident in Zurich. One year later, she went to London to pursue her education. She studied international relations at the University of Westminster and completed her post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics.[7]


Pavey served in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, being responsible for external relations and humanitarian aid in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Syria. She worked as the spokesperson of UNHCR for Central Europe in Hungary and later as the head of human rights treaty body secretariat at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.[8]

Safak Pavey with Michelle Obama (left) and Hillary Clinton (right) at the 2012 IWOC Award ceremony

She was a columnist for the Istanbul-based Armenian-Turkish bilingual weekly Agos, and has authored three books. She carried out joint projects with Harvard University, the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Norwegian Design Council on inclusive/universal design and displaced persons.[citation needed] The book 13 Numarali Peron (Platform Number 13) narrating the train accident experience, written jointly by her mother Ayşe Önal and Pavey herself, became a best-seller in Turkey.[citation needed] She collaborated with author and Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi on the book "Refugee Rights in Iran".[9]

After fifteen years living abroad, Pavey returned to Turkey in 2011 and ran for a parliament seat. She left her position at the United Nations in 2012 and was elected as Deputy of Istanbul Province for the Republican People's Party, becoming the first disabled female member of the Turkish Parliament.[10] As part of her parliamentary work, she is a member of the Turkey-EU-Accession Committee, the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Euro-Med Parliamentary Assembly for the Mediterranean Union, the Euro-Med Sub-Committee on Energy, Water and Environment, and Vice-Chair and Member of the Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Groups with South Korea and Norway. She was subsequently appointed as one of the CHP's deputy chairpersons, responsible for environmental and social policy.[citation needed]

She is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society [11]



According to Hürriyet newspaper, Şafak Pavey’s mother is a cousin is of Deniz Gezmiş, the Turkish political activist in the late 1960s.[14]


  1. ^ "Safak Pavey bio". Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  2. ^ "CHP's Pavey elected to UN committee". Istanbul: Hürriyet Daily News. September 13, 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "2012 International Women of Courage Award Winners". United States Department of State. March 5, 2012. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Events and News 2012 | Embassy of the United States Ankara, Turkey". United States Department of State. March 2, 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Clinton praises Pavey's tireless passion, energy". Istanbul: Hürriyet Daily News. March 10, 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  6. ^ http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/824670/Safak_Pavey_milletvekilliginden_istifa_etti.html
  7. ^ White, Jenny (June 20, 2011). "CITIZEN PAVEY". 3 Quarks Daily. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Q&A: Refugee worker turns a disability into an advantage". UNHCR. November 30, 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  9. ^ Ebadi, Shirin (2008). Refugee Rights in Iran. Saqi. p. 4. ISBN 9780863566783.
  10. ^ Sussman, Anna (June 16, 2011). "Firebrand Lawmaker Fights for the Rights of the Disabled". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  11. ^ "National Secular Society Honorary Associates". National Secular Society. Retrieved 27 July 2019
  12. ^ "Safak Pavey of Turkey selected as one of the 2011 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World". Junior Chamber International. 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Secularist of the Year awarded to Turkish MP, Safak Pavey". NSS. 29 Mar 2014. Retrieved 29 Mar 2014.
  14. ^ Hürriyet newspaper

External links[edit]