Position of women in Turkish society

Professor Eğilmez often points out the fact that Turkish Republic is a modernization project where all Turkish women and men work and live side by side as equals. Now, let’s take a quick look at how much progress we have made so far:

Last year, in “Women and Economy” conference in Denizli, I’d paid close attention to the speeches delivered by other participants. Let me share with you my notes I gathered back then and my current opinions I have shaped out of the data O collected this year.

First, let’s begin with labour force participation rate: While 46% of the workforce in the first 15 years of Turkish Republic was female, today women’s labour force participation rate in Turkey barely touches 38%, which means, sadly, for a very long time, the government avoided offering opportunities to women so they can stand on their own two feet. Let me indicate that women’s average participation rate in workforce in OECD countries is 64 percent and unfortunately Turkey fall even behind Mexico with a percentage of 47 percent. Men’s labour force participation rate in Turkey is 78 percent. I still hear some people making nonsensical statements like, “Unemployment rate in Turkey rises because women want to get a job and work” It’s just unbelievable! I would not even dare to call this level of IQ “narrow minded”. This is an insane delusion and it needs immediate medical attention!

Unemployment rate in Turkey doesn’t seem too promising either. The average unemployment rate of women in OECD countries has been around 7 percent over the last 10 years while in Turkey, it did not once fall below 14 percent, which means it’s two times higher than the average OECD rate. The average unemployment rate of men in Turkey, on the other hand, is 3 points higher than OECD average with 10 percent. Brazil follows Turkey with the second worse unemployment rate of men, with a percentage around 12 percent.

Now, let’s look at the details: While the informal unemployment rate of men is 29 percent, women’s informal participation in workforce seems to be quite high with a rate of 43 percent.

“Turkey must restore its factory settings as quickly as possible…”

Now, let’s compare the situation of women in Turkey with that of other women in OECD countries and in the rest of the world in terms of income level, education level and political participation:

Women earn 40 percent of what men earn in Turkey only. In OECD countries, however, the median women income is around 60 percent. Globally, women receive, on average, 56% of men’s average lifetime earnings. When considering all sorts of global challenges women face today, the fact that Turkey falls behind the world average is just incredible. Very disappointing indeed…

On the other hand, a smaller percentage of women (20 percent) than men in Turkey have education. However, in OECD countries, the educational gap between men and women is measured only by 2.5% while, on a global scale, it is only around 12.5%. Both men and women receive almost no education at all. While women go school for an average of 7 years, men attend school for a total of 8.8 years, on average. Joking aside, on average across OECD countries, 11.7% women are inactive and no longer in education, while men on average receive 12-year education. But, Turkey sadly remains below the world average.

Women’s political participation in Turkey isn’t very bright either. While in OECD countries on average 28% of central/ federal governments ministerial positions are filled by women, and the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments worldwide is 23%, sadly in Turkey, female representation in parliament remains at 15%, which means, despite repeated claims, female representation in Turkish parliament is not very poor. It is extremely poor! Despite the fact that there are plenty of other countries in the world where women are not allowed to do almost anything, Turkey’s deteriorating situation in terms of women’s participation in all aspects of society clearly shows that why Turkey keep facing never-ending troubles.

According to Turkish labour law, men and women performing the same job in the same organization must be paid equally. Now, that is something to be proud of, law making-wise at least. But, when it comes to putting it into practice… Such a shame…

I honestly don’t know why women’s rights in Turkey have deeply deteriorated since the foundation of Turkish Republic by our beloved Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as the first leader to offer many a wide range of rights to women in Turkey, including the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal and general elections, a decade or more before women in such Western European countries. However, it seems to me that Turkey has moved away from civilization and has gone into orbit of strange cultures.

Regardless of reason, the statistics I provided above are quite disappointing and they clearly show us that we are slowly moving away from the founding principles of the Republic. Turkey must restore its factory settings as quickly as possible.