Nov 1 elections: A sad picture for women

Nov 1 elections: A sad picture for women

The losers of the Nov. 1 elections were again women. According to unofficial figures, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has 34 women deputies, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 21, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has 23 and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has three, equaling 81 women deputies in total.

In this case, there was a fall in the number of women deputies in all parties except the CHP. In the June elections, the AKP had 41 woman deputies in parliament; now they have 34. The number of woman deputies from the HDP fell from 32 to 23 and in the MHP, from four to three. 

In the June elections, 98 women were able to become members of parliament corresponding to 17.6 percent; now this rate has gone down to 14.7 percent.

As a result, the picture that has emerged is sad for women. 

Turkey has one of the worst scores in terms of women representatives in politics. The latest elections were also a fiasco for women organizations which have been working for gender equality for years.

KaDer, a group which works for women to be elected for parliament regardless of their party affiliation, interpreted the fall in the number of women in parliament as “different dynamics.” KaDer head Gönül Karahanoğlu said, “We did not launch a campaign for women candidates for the Nov. 1 elections as we did in other elections because of the bloody attacks in Suruç and Ankara and because it did not look right to focus on women candidates in the violence spiral the country was going through.” 

During the extraordinarily tense periods following the June elections political parties forgot women in their election campaigns. As Karahanoğlu said, none of the parties included gender equality in their election propaganda and they saw no problem in decreasing the number of women candidates on their lists. 

There was an important fall in the AKP’s women candidates compared to June. The biggest loser of the elections, the MHP, had a boost in the number of initial candidates because it did not charge money from women applicants but they were not able to obtain “good and electable” spots on the lists; thus their number in parliament remained low.  

For instance, the fierce defender of gender equality in parliament, Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir MHP deputy Ruhsar Demirel, is no longer a lawmaker.

The harshest criticism to the words of Trabzonspor sports club head İbrahim Hacıosmanoğlu, who said, “We will die like men; we will not live like women,” came from Demirel, as well as CHP Ankara deputy Aylin Nazlıaka.  

It is a great loss for women that a women’s rights advocate in parliament is missing now.

On the other hand, Karahanoğlu highlighted that when the AKP governs as one party, it will continue its own women politics and will disregard the knowledge and experience of women’s organizations which have long years of experience in the field. 

Karahanoğlu said, “The government has formed its own women’s civilian initiatives. Unfortunately, we have glass walls between us with these organizations.”

Businessperson Nur Ger, head of the Turkish Industry and Business Association’s (TÜSİAD) gender equality working group, said, on the fall in the number of women deputies, “We see that gender equality, which is an indispensable part of fundamental rights and freedoms, is not a priority in terms of social values; whereas the first sign of development is gender equality. The current situation shows how difficult our work is.”