Turkey's Parliament celebrates women's rights to vote and run for office

Women in Turkey gained their rights to vote and enter politics on 5 December 1934. The Parliament in Turkey celebrated the 82nd Anniversary of the Recognition of Women’s Rights to Vote and to Stand for Election at a ceremony in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, organized by UN Women.

Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Binali Yıldırım, Turkish Prime Minister, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, Minister of Family and Social Policies, Radiye Sezer Katırcıoğlu, EOC Chairperson, Fulya Vekiloğlu, UN Women Turkey Office Country Program Director, EOC parliamentarians, women parliamentarians, and representatives from Sweden Embassy
Binali Yıldırım, Turkish Prime Minister, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, Minister of Family and Social Policies, Radiye Sezer Katırcıoğlu, EOC Chairperson, Fulya Vekiloğlu, UN Women Turkey Office Country Program Director, EOC parliamentarians, women parliamentarians, and representatives from Sweden Embassy. Photo: UN Women

The 82nd Anniversary of the recognition of women’s rights to vote and to stand for election was celebrated at a 5 December event in the Turkish Parliament. The event included an exhibition of women in Turkish political history that featured portraits and biographies of 18 women from the country’s parliament in 1935.

The historic celebration, held in Ceremony Hall in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, was organized and supported by UN Women and the Committee on Equal opportunity for Women and Men (EOC). Participants included high-level government officials, parliamentarians, representatives from embassies, UN agencies and civil society organizations.

Invitees visiting Women’s Portraits in Turkish Political Histroy exhibition Photo: UN Women
Invitees visiting Women’s Portraits in Turkish Political Histroy exhibition. Photo: UN Women

Prime Minister of Turkey, Binali Yıldırım spoke at the ceremony where he emphasized the importance of women’s role in social life and politics. Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya also shared the message: “Women’s participation in wide range of areas like management, politics, education will strengthen family and society.”

Fulya Vekiloğlu, UN Women’s Country Programme Director in Turkey, noted that women’s representation across the world is not enough even though global figures on women’s political participation has risen since 1995 when only 11.3 per cent of parliamentarians were women, to today’s figure of 22.8 per cent. She said, “Behind this increase, there is the struggle of women in political life from past to present.“

Fulya Vekiloğlu, UN Women Turkey Office Country Program Director making her speech Photo: UN Women
Fulya Vekiloğlu, UN Women Turkey Office Country Program Director making her speech. Photo: UN Women

Radiye Sezer Katırcıoğlu, Chairperson of EOC, said that entering politics was the most effective way for women to gain a voice in their country’s destiny: “Women's political participation is a constitutional right in all democratic societies. On the other hand, equal representation of women and men in all aspects of social life is a democratic necessity.”

The event was part of the programme “Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey. Implemented by UN Women in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the initiative is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).