Leadership and political participation

Women leaders from political parties and civil society organizations at the Experience Sharing Workshop. Photo: UN Women/Ender Baykuş
Women leaders from political parties and civil society organizations at the Experience Sharing Workshop. Photo: UN Women/Ender Baykuş

Women’s political participation and representation in national and local elected bodies in Turkey remains below the global average. Women face serious challenges in accessing leadership roles and participating in politics at all levels, despite all political parties using quotas and other voluntary special measures to increase women’s representation.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021,Turkey ranks 114th in political empowerment for women and 140th in economic participation and opportunity.

As of 2021, one of 17 government ministers is a woman, and only 17.29 per cent of parliamentarians in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) are women, well below the global average of 25.5 per cent. Women are also significantly under-represented in local politics. As of 2019, only 3 per cent of mayors, 11 per cent of municipal councillors and just over 2 per cent of muhktars (village heads) are women.

In Turkey’s private sector, women make up only 22 per cent of management positions, 18 per cent of board members and 11 per cent of senior executive positions.

UN Women in Action in Turkey

Since it began operations in Turkey in 2012, UN Women has worked to increase women’s leadership in decision-making positions and enhance their political engagement, particularly at local level. UN Women Turkey supports the government to meet Turkey’s commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality. It promotes gender-responsive legislation, plans and budgets, and works to strengthen the networks, capacities of and dialogue between women leaders in elected office, the private and public sectors, and in civil society.

In 2014-2020, UN Women in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) implemented the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) funded Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey project. The project’s main national partner was the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s (TGNA) Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men.

Key achievements and activities include:

  • Advocating for policies to advance gender equality and women’s right to participate in decision-making;
  • Developing recommendations for 38 laws to ensure that they comply with Turkey’s international obligations;
  • Enabling women’s networks to engage with the TGNA’s Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men through regional conferences;
  • Developing gender-responsive budgeting tools with the TGNA;
  • Providing training and workshops to more than 200 gender equality advocates, women candidates and members of municipal councils on gender-sensitive leadership and gender- responsive planning;
  • Training of more than 250 communications and media students about improving women’s representation in media;
  • Increasing the gender equality, gender-responsive planning and budgeting knowledge and skills of over 500 participants from the TGNA, ministries and municipalities;
  • Developing the means for local administrations to assess and address the specific gendered needs of citizens, especially women;
  • Running campaigns to highlight the importance of women’s leadership.

For more information on UN Women’s work in leadership and political participation in Turkey: Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey project.