UN Women, IPU and Turkish Parliament to enhance women’s political participation

UN Women kicks off new project to increase women’s leadership and participation in Turkish politics and decision making, in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Turkish Parliament.

Date: Monday, February 29, 2016

The launch of the Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey Project . Photo: UN Women
The launch of the `Gender Equality in Political leadership and Participation in Turkey Project`. Photo: UN Women

Across Turkey, women are under-represented in decision-making, particularly at the political level where their representation remains below international benchmarks. Despite government laws to improve gender equality, Turkey’s gender gap overall places it 130th of 145 countries, according to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, which ranks Turkey 105th in political empowerment.

To increase women’s leadership and participation in Turkish politics and decision making, UN Women in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) launched the project, Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey in December 2015.

The Project works with the Turkish Grand National Assembly and civil society to ensure that legal frameworks and policies influenced by gender equality advocates – women’s and civil society groups – are in place and properly implemented to advance Turkish women’s political participation.

Stakeholders at the Project launch in Ankara 7 December 2015. Photo: UN Women
Stakeholders at the project launch in Ankara. Photo: UN Women

In December, about 250 people attended the launch event in Ankara, including the Swedish Ambassador to Turkey, the Project Coordinator of the IPU, the chairperson of the Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women and Men, the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Turkish MPs, Grand National Assembly staff, members of political parties, and representatives from public institutions, academia, civil society and embassies.

“Equal representation of women who constitute half of the population is the key for de facto equality. In an attempt to propel a leap in societal development and to make more democratic and effective regulations in parliaments, women’s representation needs to be strengthened,” said the Chairperson of the Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women and Men of TGNA, Ms. Radiye Sezer Katırcıoğlu. In their speeches, other key stakeholders also stressed the linkage between women’s political participation and a genuine democracy, and voiced their shared commitment to achieving gender equality in political participation and leadership.

Ingibjörg Solrun Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey, at the project launch in Ankara. Photo: UN Women
Ingibjörg Solrun Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey gave her opening speech. Photo: UN Women

“It is vital for this Project that we partner with gender equality advocates – women’s and civil society groups – as no real change will be achieved without including civil society,” said Ms. Ingibjörg Solrun Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey, at the project launch in Ankara.

Although the share of women in parliament has significantly grown since 1991 when women made up only 1.8 per cent of parliamentarians, and Turkey has made women’s equal participation in political decision-making a priority, much remains to be done.

After the early elections of November 2015 the percentage of women in the Turkish Grand National Assembly fell to 14.7 – a figure well below the global average of 22 per cent and the 30 per cent target set by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1995.

Financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the three-year Project is being implemented by UN Women in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women and Men.

Legislation Review Meeting with EOC MPs and EOC Legislative Experts Photo: UN Women
Legislation Review Meeting with EOC MPs and EOC Legislative Experts Photo: UN Women

In order to enhance dialogue between decision-makers and gender equality advocates, UN Women brought together 52 civil society representatives from 35 organizations in December 2015 to provide them with information about the Project. Participants engaged in a productive debate on strengthening the dialogue mechanisms and enhancing the policy space to enable gender equality advocates and civil society to promote gender equality and women’s political participation.

Most recently in January and February, UN Women shared with project partners the findings of the legislation review reports which were prepared in the first phase of the project in two separate meetings. This review identified the gaps in the current legislations and propose law amendments.

The analysis of legislations was conducted by Prof. Dr. Bertil Emrah Oder and Dr. Zeynep Oya Usal Kanzler from the perspective of their compliance with relevant global legally binding standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women to which Turkey is a part.

At the end of the meetings, all partners agreed to update previous reports on legislation reviews and prepare concrete proposals taking into consideration feedback from participants.