Are women being forced to stay at home?
The numbers provided on the occasion of March 8, Women’s Day, makes this fact crystal clear: Gender inequality continues in the global economy.
“While women do 66 percent of the work in the world and provide 50 percent of food production, they only earn 10 percent of the income,” according to the statement of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Turkey. IMF President Christine Lagarde says at every occasion that gender equality is the prerequisite of a healthy economy. There are 865 million women in the world with the potential to participate in the labor force and 812 million of them live in emerging market countries.
What is the situation in Turkey, one of these emerging markets?
Female participation in the labor force is one third of that of men, according to the Turkish Federation of Women’s Associations, which provided the numbers based on figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute’s (TÜIK). The ratio of female entrepreneurs is 7 percent. Turkey aims to get the ratio of women’s labor participation to 35 percent by 2023. Yet the target of the European Union for 2020 is 75 percent. In other words, 20 million women are currently excluded from the labor force in Turkey.
Underlining the fact that 94 percent of the candidates for the upcoming municipal elections were male, the Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates, Ka-Der, said there was a desire to lock women up in their homes and kitchens. Their presence “outside” is being neglected.
But don’t worry; women are not staying idle either. I participated in the activities of “Geminist Women” on March 8, Women’s Day, on Istanbul’s İstiklal Street. It was a bit of a coincidence as we were together in the boat taking us from Kadıköy to Karaköy beforehand. I was attracted by their slogans and their songs, so much that I followed them to the place where they held their activities. When I left they continued their march to Taksim Square and painted purple the shields of the police who wanted to prevent them entering Gezi Park.
Meanwhile, at the event held the other day in Kadıköy, the names of female victim of killings were written on shoe boxes, which have become a meaningful symbol in Turkey.
In the meantime, an initiative on March 8 in terms of female participation to the labor force came from Istanbul Industry Chamber (ISO). With 17,000 members, only six were women among the 104-member assembly of the chamber. The head of the assembly is Zeynep Bodur Okyay, from the Kale group. This is a first in the 62-year history of ISO, which is dominated by men.
There are six articles in the manifesto published by the platform, which has 18 female members from ISO: Having the target readjusted to 50 percent for female employment for 2023; reaching 25 percent for female entrepreneurs, having more women in politics, making all women read and write, having at least high school graduation for all girls and securing gender equality.
It looks like it won’t be easy to keep women locked in their houses.