In Focus: Supporting women and girls in Türkiye in the aftermath of the earthquakes

In Focus: Supporting women and girls in Türkiye in the aftermath of the earthquakes
Women and children are amongst the most affected after the earthquakes in Gaziantep, Türkiye. Photo: UN Women/Nilüfer Baş.

On 6 February 2023, twin earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, killing thousands of people and injuring many others. In support of the government-led response, UN Women Türkiye, together with public authorities, civil society organizations, other UN agencies and private sector partners, mounted a swift response targeting the most at-risk women and girls. Read more.

Spanning both Europe and Asia, Türkiye is home to nearly 83 million people. It hosts 4 million persons under international and temporary protection, the world’s largest number of refugees. Türkiye is a member of the UN, NATO, OECD, G-20, and OIC, and a candidate country for EU accession. In 1934, Turkish women were among the first in Europe to achieve the right to vote and run for elected office. The country has a strong women’s movement and women’s human rights activists have mobilized nationwide campaigns against violence against women and contributed to the adoption of gender equality legislation.

Türkiye became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 and ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2002. It was the first country to sign (2011) and ratify (2012) the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). On March 20, 2021, Türkiye announced its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. UN Women’s statement on the withdrawal is available here.

Türkiye’s 11th National Development Plan 2019-2023 contains goals and measures to empower women, prevent discrimination against them, and ensure that women have equal access to the rights, opportunities and facilities available to men. Other policy documents adopted include the National Strategy and Action Plan on Women’s Empowerment (2018-2023), the National Action Plan on Combating Violence and Women (2016 -2020) and the National Action Plan on Women’s Employment (2016-2018).

Despite current legislation and policies, gender inequalities persist in many areas. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022, Türkiye ranks 124th among 146 countries in gender equality, 101st in educational attainment for women, 112nd in their political empowerment, 134th in economic participation and opportunity, and 99th in health and survival.

According to recent data on participation in labour markets and political and economic decision-making in Türkiye:

As of 2022, over 3.6 million Syrians are under temporary protection in Türkiye, 46 per cent of them are women and girls. The Law on Foreigners and International Protection, and the Temporary Protection Regulation provide a strong legal framework for the legal stay, registration, documentation and access to rights and services for foreigners in Türkiye.

Despite extensive support provided by the Government of Türkiye and partners, Syrian women and girls, including female-headed households, face significant barriers to meet their basic needs, recover from war traumas, and effectively participate in Türkiye’s social and economic life, according to the Türkiye Country Chapter 2021 – 2022 – Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan.

Based in Ankara, the Turkish capital, the UN Women Türkiye Country Office has been actively implementing projects since 2012. UN Women Türkiye works closely with the Government, civil society organizations, private sector companies and business associations, media, academia, other UN agencies and development partners, and opinion-makers and activists from different sectors to promote gender equality.

In line with the UN Women Global Strategic Plan 2022-2025 and the Strategic Note for Türkiye 2022-2025 and the United Nations Development Cooperation Strategy Türkiye 2021-2025, UN Women in Türkiye works in four thematic areas:

  1. Governance and participation in public life;
  2. Women’s economic empowerment;
  3. Ending violence against women and girls;
  4. Women, peace and security, humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction.

In particular, UN Women Türkiye focuses on initiatives in these areas:

For more information about UN Women Türkiye, download a brochure here.

To learn more about of UN Women Türkiye programmes and campaigns: Highlights 2021 report

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Following the earthquake that hit Türkiye and Syria on 6 February KAMER, a partner civil society organization of UN Women Türkiye, is among the many civil society organizations that are working tirelessly to support survivors. Read more »

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