Ambiguity in women’s policies

Ambiguity in women’s policies

It was on my return flight from the Paris meeting of the world’s cosmetic giant L’Oreal held their “For Women in Science” program organized together with UNESCO for 18 years that I read a piece written by Family Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu in Turkish Airlines (THY) inflight magazine, Skylife. 

She wrote about gender equality in the office. Minister Ramazanoğlu has been the target of many reactions especially on social media these days. She has been asked on social media to resign because of her statements defending Eser Foundation, a foundation involved in the alleged sexual abuse of 45 children.  

In her piece, Ramazanoğlu stated that the rate of women managers in public administration in Turkey was 9.4 percent. She wrote that also as 12 percent of all CEOs were women, Turkey was in a better situation than other countries. 

It is possible to associate this rate to family companies in the private sector. The real issue is the scarcity of women managers in the public sector. Ramazanoğlu has not mentioned in her piece what measures the state would take to increase this figure.  

Another aspect she has not mentioned in her article is the fact that Turkey is 130th among 145 countries in the 2015 Gender Gap report of World Economic Forum. 

She has not written about the 14.7 percent of female parliamentary deputies, 2.7 percent of female mayors and the group of village and neighborhood heads the president frequently hosts in the palace, only 1.3 percent of which are women. 

Similarly, only 2.4 percent of governors are women, while 9.5 percent of university rectors are women and only 14.3 percent of ambassadors are women. 

In Turkey, woman seems to be excluded from management in every sector.

The UNESCO L’Oreal ceremony’s motto was “The world needs science and science needs women.” 

The same goes for Turkey. Empowering women makes a country leap. However, the government’s dealing of the women’s issues in Turkey is highly ambiguous.

I felt the need to use the adjective ambiguous, the one that foreign sources use for Turkey’s Syrian policies. 

Because when I hear Family and Social Policies Minister Ramazanoğlu referring to the concept of “gender justice” instead of gender equality, I can only think of this adjective. 

Wherever you go in the world, you can find the concept of gender equality in terminology and literature on women issues. In politics, in business and social life, in science, in all fields of art, the equality between women and men is defined as gender equality, full stop. 

When I asked Ramazanoğlu in a meeting about two months ago what gender justice was, she told me, “We have adopted this concept because we want the opportunities between women and men to be distributed fairly and justly.”

Quite an ambiguous answer. 

If this is truly the wish, then why are there so few women in the public sector? 

In that same meeting, Ramazanoğlu said they have introduced flexible working hours for women to increase the amount of women employed. 

Women’s Labor and Employment Initiative (KEİG) claims that the flexible working hours Ramazanoğlu has mentioned (in other words, part-time work hours) will negatively affect the employment of women as public employees and workers.

The situation in the pending bills on women’s employment and violence against women is just as ambiguous as “gender justice.”