Şafak Pavey

Turkish politician

Şafak Pavey (born July 10, 1976) [1] is a Turkish writer and politician. She is the first disabled woman in the Turkish parliament.[2] She is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[3][4] In 2012 Pavey received the International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State.[3][5]

Safak Pavey with Secretary Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2012


Pavey was born on July 10, 1976 in Ankara, Turkey. Her parents were Şahin and Ayşe Önal, a journalist. 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 study. She studied international studies at the University of Westminster. She finished her master's degree at the London School of Economics.[6]


Pavey worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She worked with aid in Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Syria. She was the spokesperson of UNHCR for Central Europe in Hungary. Later she worked with human rights for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.[7]

Pavey wrote for the Armenian-Turkish bilingual weekly Agos in Istabul. She also wrote three books. She worked on projects for refugees with Harvard University, the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Norwegian Design Council. She wrote the book 13 Numarali Peron (Platform Number 13) with her mother Ayşe Önal. The book was about her train accident. It was a best-seller in Turkey. She worked with writer and Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi to write the book "Refugee Rights in Iran".[8]

Pavey returned to Turkey in 2011 and ran for a parliament seat. She became the first disabled female member of the Turkish Parliament.[9]



  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. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "2012 International Women of Courage Award Winners". United States Department of State. March 5, 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. White, Jenny (June 20, 2011). "CITIZEN PAVEY". 3 Quarks Daily. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  7. "Q&A: Refugee worker turns a disability into an advantage". UNHCR. November 30, 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  8. Ebadi, Shirin (2008). Refugee Rights in Iran. Saqi. p. 4. ISBN 9780863566783.
  9. Sussman, Anna (June 16, 2011). "Firebrand Lawmaker Fights for the Rights of the Disabled". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  10. "Safak Pavey of Turkey selected as one of the 2011 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World". Junior Chamber Internationa. 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  11. "Secularist of the Year awarded to Turkish MP, Safak Pavey". NSS. 29 Mar 2014. Retrieved 29 Mar 2014.

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