Equality of Women and Men in Turkey
According to the Gender Inequality Index, which was published by United Nations Development Programme in the year 2013 and which is measuring the indicators of “maternal mortality rate”, “fertility rate of adolescents”, “political participation of women”, “women literacy” and “women participation in labour force”, Turkey is ranked as 69th among 187 countries. According to the“Global Gender Gap”index, which is published by World Economic Forum on a regular basis, Turkey was ranked as 120th among 136 countries in the year 2013. Results of these indexes are very important in terms of demonstrating gender inequality in Turkey.
According to the “Millennium Development Goals Progress Report”, which was published in 2010, it is stated that although Turkey is close to achieve the aim of eliminating gender inequality in grade school, the rate of girls who do not continue through elementary school is still worthy of consideration. Millennium Development Goals report remarks especially the geographical and social gender equality disparities as the issues constituting a problem for the achieving the millennium goals. The Report points out that Turkey is facing some serious challenges and structural obstacles and 3rd MDG, which is Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women, should be taken into special consideration.
On the other hand, as a result of Turkey’s activities on monitoring international gender equality as well as the strong women movement and efforts of women’s organizations, Turkey has made a remarkable progress on women rights since 1990 and a common agenda on gender has been developed. Additionally, legal arrangements on repealing the discriminatory provisions have been achieved within the last 10 years. These arrangements took place on both executive level, e.g. General Directorate on the Status of Women, and on legislative areas and these arrangements became the milestones of gender equality field. These progresses can be summarized respectively as follows; establishment of the Equal Opportunities of Men and Women at the Turkey Grand National Assembly (TBMM), revisions on the penal code provisions involving steps on gender equality and protection of women rights in sexual and physical sense, revisions on the civil code provisions bringing equality of women and men to family by eliminating male superiority in marriage, revision of family protection law provisions against domestic violence, ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), ratification of the Council of Europe Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, a.k.a İstanbul Convention, enactment of Municipal Law No. 5393 obliging the establishment of women’s and children’s shelters by the municipalities with the population of more than 100.000.
Gender inequality is experienced at its peak at the local level. When employment, literacy and reproductive health is analysed, it can be seen that there are many regional disparities and such disparities require tailor-based actions. For instance, according to the latest statistics published by Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) in April 2013, while the rate of illiterate women over the age of 15 in Antalya is %2.77, this rate goes up to %16.39 in Şanlıurfa. This situation itself shows the importance of developing gender sensitive local policies.
Problems, challenges, constraints women are facing at the local level are directly related to the local policies and measures. When we look at the political life, we can see that inequality problems are mostly faced at local level. The rate of the women members of parliament in Turkish Grand National Assembly is %14 but when it comes to the local assemblies, this rate dropped to %3 (Provincial Council) and %4 (Municipal Council) in 2009 elections. Although this rate went up to %10.7 in 2014 Local Elections, the rate is still below the national ratio of %14. In total 81 provinces of Turkey, there are only 4 women mayors. These data shows that local policies, like the cities themselves, are traditionally designed by men and these designs are insufficient in terms of taking women and girls’ needs into account.
United Nations Women Friendly Cities Joint Programme aims to develop gender equality in Turkey both at national and local level via Local Equality Mechanisms and Local Equality Action Plans; and to develop cooperation between local women NGOs and local administrations.