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Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero will visit Turkey next week to speak about the importance of women participating in politics and public life. She was asked to take the trip by the U.S. State Department.

"I am honored by this invitation, and I look forward to meeting a wide range of officials and citizens in Turkey to talk about and encourage civic engagement," Mayor Rogero said. "This is an important issue all across the world. Women have made some progress here in the United States, but we are still underrepresented at most levels of government."

Turkey's municipal elections will be held on March 31, and officials citizens are encouraging more women to take part, both as candidates and voters. Right now, there are no Turkish women serving as mayors of major cities, and less than 1% of city council members are women.

During the trip, from January 27-February 2, Mayor Rogero will visit cities including Izmir, Adana and Ankara, the Turkish capital. She will meet with mayors and other political leaders, along with civic groups. She will also get to meet with Tennesseans serving at the Incirlik Air Force base outside Adana.

The trip is part of the State Department's International Information Programs, and the State Department will be paying all of Mayor Rogero's expenses. They mayor is also taking her granddaughter Jada Torney, 17, who is a junior at West High School. Mayor Rogero will pay for her granddaughter's expenses.

"This is a great chance for Jada to learn about the people, culture and politics of Turkey," Mayor Rogero said, "and an opportunity for some quality grandmother time."

Mayor Rogero is looking forward to sharing stories about Knoxville's own Turkish community.

"We have an active and engaged Turkish community, and I have participated in numerous events and annual dialogue dinners hosted by the Turkish Cultural Center. Many Knoxvillians have traveled to Turkey at their invitation," Mayor Rogero said. "I am honored to be able to represent our city in Turkey."

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