Photo: Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality

A democratic, culturally diverse, parliamentary republic founded in 1923, Turkey is home to some 77 million people. Turkey is an emerging market, upper middle income economy, and is ranked among the world’s top 20 economies.

A democratic, culturally diverse, parliamentary republic founded in 1923, Turkey is home to some 77 million people. Turkey is an emerging market, upper middle income economy, and is ranked among the world’s top 20 economies.

Strategically located, with access to the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas, Turkey is a member of the UN, NATO, the OECD and the G-20, and is a candidate country for EU accession.

When the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923, it enacted important legal reforms to ensure equality between women and men in political and civil rights. During the 1980s, a strong women’s movement raised public awareness of violations of women’s rights, especially violence against women.

Turkey ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985. In the 1990s, gender equality improved in public institutions, universities and civil society.

Laws were passed to eliminate discrimination against women in the 1990s, and a law to protect survivors of domestic violence was enacted in 1998. Starting in 2000, Turkey updated its fundamental laws with respect to gender equality (Constitutional Amendments of 2001, 2004 and 2010, and adoption of a new Civil Code in 2001 and a new Penal Code in 2004).

The first country to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence and Domestic Violence against Women in 2011 and 2012 respectively, Turkey has passed, in line with its obligations under the Convention, major legislative changes to prevent violence against women.

However, Turkey lags in implementing its national and international gender equality commitments. Women in Turkey continue to face challenges, with gender-based violence a major concern.

Turkey’s gender gap overall places it 130th of 144 countries, according to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum. It ranks 109th in educational attainment, 113th in political empowerment for women, and 129th in economic participation and opportunity. Turkish women’s labour force participation rate is 33 per cent, compared to 77 per cent for men, and women’s estimated earned income is only 44 per cent of Turkish men’s.

Economic freedom and violence against women top Turkish women’s issues, according to a survey released by the Turkish daily Hürriyet on 8 March 2015 to mark International Women’s Day. Only 37. 2 per cent of women surveyed have a personal bank account and 23 per cent of women said they’d been victims of violence by their husband at least once. The 2014 National Domestic Violence Survey by the General Directorate on the Status of Women found that 37.5 per cent of married women surveyed had been physically or sexually abused at least once.

Across Turkey, women are under-represented in decision-making, particularly at the political level where their representation remains below international benchmarks.

After the June 2015 general elections, women made up 17.8 per cent of representatives elected to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. However, after the Early Elections of November 2015, that fell to 14.7 per cent – 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.

Located in Ankara, the UN Women office in Turkey has been implementing projects since 2012. UN Women works closely with the Government and civil society to promote gender equality, empower women and unlock progress for everyone in Turkey by focusing on initiatives in these areas:

UN Women works to increase women’s leadership and participation within businesses and the private sector through advocating Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). WEPs support signatory companies in reviewing existing policies and practices—or establishing new ones—to help them empower women. UN Women worked with the UN Global Compact Turkey Working Group on Women’s Empowerment to develop a WEPs Implementation Guide. Turkey ranks second in number of WEPs signatories globally.

In Turkey, UN Women coordinates HeForShe, a global movement that supports gender equality and women’s empowerment by engaging men and boys to become agents of change for full equality between men and women. Since 2015, with the support of Impact Champions Koç Holding, Vodafone Turkey and Unilever Turkey, UN Women Turkey engages Turkish civil society, private sector and youth in national HeForShe initiatives.

For more information about UN Women Turkey's work on gender equality, you can download our brochure from here.

Featured Publication

Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey Project Information Brochure

Brochure on UN Women's work in Turkey
This brochure provides information about UN Women's work on gender equality and gives insights on programmes, projects, partnerships, and gender statistics in Turkey. More »

See more publications from Turkey here.

Rural women access early cancer screening in Turkey

Rural women access early cancer screening in Turkey

After receiving UN Women training, a municipality in central Turkey is actively reaching out to thousands of rural women to educate and transport them to a free cancer screening centre.

Read more »

See more news from Turkey here.

Featured video
The Gender-responsive Budgeting work of UN Women in Turkey

The Gender-responsive Budgeting work of UN Women in Turkey made important contributions to improve gender equality policies and practices among 11 pilot municipalities. These municipalities now have better plans and programs that takes into account gender equality and the empowerment of women.