Social life consists of two different places: Inside and outside the home. Women leave the outside world to the men, generally remaining in the home. Women get married at an earlier age than men and settle into their role of housewife and home maker. As the education level of women increases, the fertility rate decreases. Nearly every female university graduate has only one child.
Turkish Woman in History and Today
Turks were tribes and the culture was so sensitive for mothers and wife in the family before believing to Islam. They were very respective to females. But later they had to meet with Arab culture with Islam. It was easy and very comfortable to adopt some cultures against woman for a man. And they called this it is Islamic culture. It was totally misunderstanding. During Ottoman period, Woman doesn’t have any citizen rights to go to school, to defend herself. After collapsing of Ottoman Empire, Atatürk who is the founder of Turkish Republic, gave the citizen rights to Turkish Woman. Turkish Woman is the first who got the citizen rights in the world to vote, to talk to defend herself. However, tradition is quite strict in villages. So, Many women do not know how much rights they have. Because in tradition, our elders teach us how to respect husband. So this law unfortunately doesn’t work well in Turkey. When Atatürk had reformed all these laws, with democracy, religion traders were not so happy about it.
9 million of the 21 million working population of Turkey are women.
In the rural areas, the rate of working female is very high. especially it is in agriculture, However, woman works in this sector as an extension of their housework and not to make a living. In urban areas, women hold important posts in both public and private sectors, the arts and sciences. Today, Turkish women are bank managers, doctors, lawyers, judges, journalists, pilots, diplomats, police officers, army officers or prime ministers.
Nearly two thirds of health personnel including doctors and pharmacists, one quarter of all lawyers and one third of banking personnel are women.
As for the politics, in the elections of 1937, the number of woman MP’s was 18, which meant 4.5%. Today, unfortunately, this rate is much less than before. However, Turkey has also seen Tansu Ciller as the first woman Prime Minister.
A new law proposition
A package called “Democratization of the family” is a new law preposition awaiting parliamentary discussion and enactment and it will include changes in the position of women, some of which are as follows:
- The cancellation of former obligatory permission from their husbands for women to work.
- Equality in the case of adultery.
- In the case of divorce, equality in the sharing of belongings which were acquired after marriage.
An important stage of feminism in Turkey started in the 1980s. It is different from the previous stages. Because it was initiated by women who spoke for themselves. It was rather than by men who had manipulated the female image for their own political agenda. At this stage of feminism women spoke for themselves, beginning by arguing the reality of their bodies and their physical needs as opposed to the idealization and the symbolization of the female body as used for the national image.
Feminism strongly challenges the image of some Turkish women as covered, almost sexless beings and also as sacrificial mothers who would do and endure anything for their children and family.
To very briefly summarize the position of women in Turkey today; we can say that unless you are a woman living in a metropolitan city and financially independent, life is still likely to be bound by the customs of traditional family life.