Take Five: “Our purpose is to support all women candidates who wish to stand for elections”

Date: Monday, December 24, 2018

anan Kalsin, the Chairperson of The Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men (EOC) in the Turkish Parliament. Photo: UN Women/Ebru Özdayı Demirel
Photo: UN Women/Ebru Özdayı Demirel

Canan Kalsın, the Chairperson of The Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men (EOC) in the Turkish Parliament, has been active in politics for more than 15 years and has worked in several positions in her political party. As Chairperson of EOC, she collaborates with UN Women in promoting women’s political participation and leadership as part of the “Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey” project implemented in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and with financial support by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). She is leading the Committee in achieving equal opportunities between women and men, advancing women’s rights, and mainstreaming gender equality in the parliament.

As the Chairperson of the Committee on Equality of Opportunity of Women and Men in the Turkish Parliament, what will be your actions and plans for strengthening and achieving gender equality in Turkey?

The Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men (EOC) was established in 2009 to contribute to the achievement of gender equality and for combating gender-based discrimination in Turkey. In this context, we work in cooperation with national and international organisations.

We have upcoming local elections. Our priority is to identify the needs and constraints of women candidates. We plan to organise trainings to address their needs, enable them to meet peers from other countries, and provide opportunities to facilitate exchange of experiences. We are planning to engage in systematic and sustainable work on raising awareness about gender equality among the entire society. We also think that technology issues are of utmost importance. We plan to engage in various efforts to ensure that women remain abreast of technological advancements both in the Parliament and politics.

The Committee on Equality of Opportunity of Women and Men is the main partner of the “Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey” Project that has been implemented by UN Women since 2014. What are the priorities that need to be addressed to increase the number of women politicians and promote women’s political participation?

We work in close cooperation with UN Women. It is important to establish international working groups and organize on-site trainings so that women politicians observe good practices in other countries, exchange experience with peers and build communications networks. In this context, it is necessary to invite women politicians and candidates to Turkey and organise visits for Turkish women politicians and candidates to other countries. In addition, it is of great importance to plan activities enabling women to observe best practices in order to contribute to achieving gender equality and increasing the ratio of women politicians.

It is an important priority to organise monitoring and evaluation studies and trainings at national and international level.

What are the plans of the Committee to reach the women candidates who will run for the local elections in Turkey?

We aim to outreach to women candidates through several platforms that we build, as well as through cooperation with civil society organisations. Our purpose is to reach out to all women candidates who wish to stand for elections. We would like to support women candidates who suffer constraints in terms of equal opportunity, encourage and enable them to become candidates. Creating awareness in the society is also important. This needs systematic studies, and awareness-raising activities for the society.

UN Women and the Committee organized several gender mainstreaming activities at the Turkish Parliament. How will the Parliament achieve its objectives to be a more gender-sensitive Parliament?

Our Committee primarily reviews the applications involving allegations of violations of gender equality and gender-based discrimination and refers such to the relevant authorities as necessary. The Committee engages in public information activities, discusses and follows up with the matters referred primarily or secondarily to us. Upon the Speaker’s request or otherwise requested, we review the compliance of the bills and proposals of laws, decree-laws with the Constitution of Republic of Turkey, international conventions and obligations in terms of gender equality, and provide opinions to specialised Committees.

We follow the developments in other countries and international organisations in terms of women’s rights and gender equality. We conduct study visits in other countries and inform the Turkish Grand National Assembly on such developments. The Committee identifies amendments and arrangements to ensure harmony of the Constitution and other national legislation with the provisions on gender equality and women’s rights of the international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory. It is our Committee’s primary legal mandate to provide the necessary information and infrastructure and engage in work to make the Parliament more gender-sensitive.

What are the actions and strategy of the Committee and Government to reach the global goal of 30 per cent women representation in the parliament?

It is already a promising development that while by 2002, the highest ratio of women deputies in Turkey was 4.6 per cent; such ratio is 17,48 per cent in 2018. The particular keenness of our President on this matter, and active efforts of women branches signal that such ratio will further go up. For example, it has now become a regular practice in the parties that elective committees have women members.