Leadership and political participation

Women candidates read joint statements at Local Political Workshop in İzmir, Turkey. Photo credit: UN Women
Women candidates read joint statements at Local Political Workshop in İzmir, Turkey. Photo credit: UN Women

Despite laws to improve legal gender equality mechanisms, women across Turkey face continued challenges in accessing leadership roles and participating in politics. Women in Turkey are under-represented in decision-making, particularly in politics where their share remains below international benchmarks at all levels.

After Turkey’s June 2018 national elections, only 17.45 per cent of deputies in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) were women – well below the global average of 24.1 per cent. Women are even more under-represented in local politics: After the 2014 elections, women made up less than 3 per cent of mayors, under 11 per cent of municipal council members and fewer than 5 per cent of Provincial General Assembly members.

Increasing women’s political engagement, particularly at the local level, is critical, and is UN Women’s top priority in Turkey. We do this by supporting Government efforts to meet Turkey’s commitment to gender equality and by promoting gender-responsive plans and budgets.

Since beginning work in Turkey in 2011, UN Women has provided expert support to the Government and civil society to:

  • Strengthen women’s political leadership and participation;
  • Increase the number of women elected to political positions;
  • Fulfil Turkey’s national and international gender equality commitments and enact laws and strategies to meet its obligations deriving from these commitments.

UN Women in Action in Turkey

From 2011 to 2014, UN Women – working with UNDP – actively supported Turkish women’s leadership and political participation through the UN Joint Programme on Fostering an Enabling Environment for Gender Equality in Turkey (UNJP). Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), UNJP:

  • Improved national gender institutions’ capacity to deliver on gender equality commitments;
  • Strengthened gender mainstreaming for legislation by assessing Turkey’s laws to assess their implications for both women and men;
  • Supported advocacy work by women’s civil society organisations and networks to promote gender equality and minimize gender stereotypes in employment and political participation.

To increase women’s leadership and participation in Turkish politics and decision-making, UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) launched the SIDA-funded Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey project. Working closely with Turkey’s TGNA from 2014 to 2018, the Project resulted in:

  • Recommendations to improve 31 laws following reviews from a gender equality perspective;
  • Capacity development of the TGNA’s Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men (EOC) so it more effectively engages with women’s civil society organisations;
  • Better engagement by women’s networks with the EOC through regional conferences;
  • The development of tools to support gender-responsive budgeting.

The Gender Equality in Political Leadership and Participation in Turkey continues to:

  • Reform and implement legal frameworks and policies to advance gender equality and women’s right to participate in decision-making;
  • Use gender-responsive budgeting to promote women’s leadership and political participation;
  • Ensure that gender equality advocates influence frameworks and policies to increase women’s leadership and political participation.