Erdoğan praises family, traditional values on International Women’s Day
AA PhotoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan praised “family and traditional values” on March 8 International Women’s Day, suggesting that the liberal notion of “economic freedom” is not actually as liberating as motherhood for women.
“In my opinion, the mindset that limits life to the parenthesis of ‘economic freedom’ has inflicted the heaviest damage on women. What work that a mother does can be converted into money?” Erdoğan said, delivering a speech in Ankara at a convention of women workers hosted by the Metal Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Türk Metal).
“You cannot liberate women by destroying the family institution and eliminating values. On the contrary, this is an approach that paves the way for the exploitation of women in every field. Every attempt to exploit women’s labor and body targets the future of societies. In the West, the bitter results of this threat can be observed with the weakening of the family institution, the decline of populations, and a collapse of values,” he added.
Erdoğan has frequently praised motherhood in the past. In 2008 he declared that designating just one day as Mothers’ Day was an “insult to mothers,” saying that “one kisses the feet of mothers. Paradise is next to mothers’ feet. That’s how we approach them.”
In November 2014, delivering a speech at an international gathering in Istanbul aimed at discussing women’s rights and freedoms, Erdoğan voiced his objection to the equality of women and men, instead recommending what he called “equivalency.”
Speaking on March 8, the Turkish president said women hold an “honorable post.” “If you didn’t exist, men would not exist,” he said.
Later the same day, he hosted a reception at his presidential palace to mark the day and delivered another speech with similar themes.
“Some circles try to associate Eastern societies, traditions and even religion only with oppression, despotism and brutality. For those circles, family and religion are the two biggest obstacles in front of women’s liberation. In the eyes of these circles, Islam is not the one that glorifies women, or holds them in high esteem, instead it is an element that makes women characterless,” Erdoğan said.
“But the supporters of these claims have oppressed millions of women in this country in the name of ‘liberating’ and ‘civilizing’ them for years,” he said, in a veiled criticism of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Erdoğan said officials who once did not allow women to wear headscarves in public spaces were “the extension of such a mindset.”
The president also slammed birth control, saying it was simply an attempt to lead the Turkish people to “extinction.”
“At the moment, the West … is panicking. Do you know why? Its population is ageing. Unfortunately, due to these [birth control] campaigns, we are now also seeing this ageing in our population because our birthrate is falling. We need to raise our population. Here, the number one actor is mothers,” he said.
Erdoğan has repeatedly called on women to have at least three children in recent years, while describing abortion as “murder” and railing against Caesarian sections.
Women’s rights activists and lawyers have criticized the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which was led by then-Prime Minister Erdoğan from 2003 until he was elected to the presidency in August 2014, for the increasingly conservative and authoritarian political culture they say it is fostering, especially against women.