Encouraging the career of motherhood

Encouraging the career of motherhood

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, before he participated in the “unity against terror” event in Paris together with world leaders, the biggest France has seen in its history, announced a significant program concerning women.

Did this “Family and Population Protection” program please the women of Turkey, a country that is 125th out of 147 countries in the gender equality index?

Let us take a look at what is in the program. As far as we understand from Davutoğlu’s statement, it is primarily a measure against Turkey’s aging population. Davutoğlu said they want to increase the fertility rate, which is currently around 2.07, to 2.1 in four or five years, but the real target is 3. He says the aim is to re-balance the aging population in one generation - in other words, in 30 to 40 years.

The government will make financial contributions depending on the number of children to encourage women to give birth. For the first baby, a one-off payment of 300 Turkish Liras will be given to the mother, for the second it will be 400 liras, and for the third it will be 600 liras.

In what the media has called the “Family Package,” there are other things too, such as the obligation to set up day care centers for municipalities, incentives for private daycare centers, part-time working opportunities for women, dowry money, and a comprehensive training campaign to combat violence against women and children.   

Did the "Family Package" please women? The answer is a short “No.”

Women’s organizations that have been struggling for gender equality for years all agree that the program Davutoğlu has announced will make women more home-bound and will totally remove them from from working life. For example, according to the head of the Turkey’s Women Associations Federation, Canan Güllü, the government is telling women “to stay at home and bear children.”

Turkish Women's Union head Sema Kendirici, on the other hand, argued that the dowry money support will only be good for supporting “early marriage,” which they have been fighting against for years.

Unfortunately, in Turkey, where one in every four marriages is an “early marriage,” this issue is snowballing instead of diminishing.

It was only a few days ago that the head of the Social Fabric Foundation Nureddin Yıldız, a NGO that we have not heard of much before, said there was no obstacle to the marrying of children as young as six years old.

The harshest reaction came from the Women’s Labor and Employment Initiative (KEİG), which said the package was only encouraging the “career of motherhood.” Referring to Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu’s words that the greatest career was motherhood,” the KEİG said women were being sacrificed to the trend of protecting the population.

KEİG also said Davutoğlu’s speech was dominated by the thought that it was women’s responsibility to take care of their family members, so no reference was made to the responsibility of fathers.

As for childcare, arrangements only involving mothers come to mind.

In short, the view of the government on gender inequality has problems from the start.

As the KEİG has stated, the numerous packages that the government has submitted concerning women so far has absolutely not been successful in presenting solid changes that would eliminate gender inequality.