Istanbul again top Turkish city for gender equality

Istanbul again top Turkish city for gender equality

Hacer Boyacıoğlu - ANKARA
Istanbul again top Turkish city for gender equality

REUTERS Photo, inset AA Photo

Istanbul has the best record in regards to gender equality among 81 Turkish provinces, while the eastern province of Bitlis has been named the least equalitarian province, according to a recent survey.

A day before marking International Women’s Day on March 8, the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), an Ankara-based think tank, announced the results of a study titled “Social Gender Quality Report Card for 81 Provinces” on March 7.

“We have a medium-technology industry. Decreasing gender inequality is among the steps that need to be taken to ensure this industry is sustainable and proceeding to a higher level. Gender equality should be a field about which local governors should be careful, in addition to central governors,” said TEPAV Executive Director Güven Sak. 

The eastern province of Muş and the central province of Yozgat preceded Bitlis as the least equalitarian provinces, while the northwestern province of Bursa and the central province of Eskişehir succeeded Istanbul in the report.

TEPAV had released a similar report card for the first time in 2014. Via adopting the United Nations’ gender inequality index, the new report card drafted by Asmin Kavas Urul applied four fundamental criteria on Turkey’s provinces - health, empowerment, political representation and the labor market.

Istanbul was also on top of the list according to these criteria in 2014. The capital city of Ankara, which was 15th in 2014 advanced to 4th this year.

According to the report card, overall Turkey has made progress in eliminating gender inequality. Yet, Urul recalled that the U.N. gender inequality index was most recently updated in 2014 and Turkey was 71st in 2014. In the new list, Turkey is expected to descend to 90th, Urul said. 

When asked about reasons for this estimated decline, Emre Koyuncu, program manager from TEPAV, said, “Because the data of many countries on the U.N. list is swiftly getting better. Political representation here increased from four percent to 10 percent. However, when compared to other countries, the situation seems bad.”

The decisive reason which led to differences between the 2014 and 2016 reports was the participation of women in municipal councils. The eastern province of Adıyaman, for example, displayed a huge difference, as it was 40th in 2014 and declined to 75th in 2016. Looking into details in changes in Adıyaman, progress was seen in the fields of health and the labor force for women, yet there was also a significant decline in representation of women in municipal councils. 

Meanwhile, despite progress in Turkey, especially in national legislation, the country still has the lowest labor force participation rate for women in Europe, U.N. Resident Coordinator Kamal Malhotra and U.N. Women’s Representative to Turkey and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Ingibjorg Gisladottir said in a joint statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

“Moreover, women comprise only 14.7 percent of the membership of the Turkish parliament, which is well below the global average. International Women’s Day comes at a pivotal time in history with the international community recognizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a precondition to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality aims to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and girls and ensure equal participation and opportunities in all spheres of life. In this context, the U.N. urges the fovernment of Turkey to step up its efforts to close the large gender gap in women’s economic and political participation,” Malhotra and Gisladottir said in their statement released on March 7.