Over 1 million Turkish women have quit jobs for household care

Over 1 million Turkish women have quit jobs for household care

There has been a frightening rise in the number of women who have recently had to quit their jobs in order to carry out childcare or elderly care in Turkey. Reforms must urgently be made to address this trend. 

One million women in Turkey quit their jobs from 2010 to 2015 due to duties bound to childcare, in addition to 112,000 others who have quit their jobs to care for the elderly, according to new a study by the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TÜRKONFED), released on Aug. 19. 

This is obviously not what most women want to do. Most of them would probably have not opted to quit their jobs if the necessary facilities had been offered to them for childcare or elderly care. 

A recent study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) said the same thing. The report, published by the ILO and U.S. global research company Gallup to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, revealed striking data on Turkish women’s and men’s perceptions and attitudes regarding women and work. 

According to the study, in Turkey only one in 10 women would rather stay at home just for family and household care. Globally, this figure is two in every 10 women.

The ILO report, titled “Towards a better future for women and work: Voices of women and men,” shows that a majority of women in Turkey want to be employed in paid jobs. This is in line with the general tendency across the world. According to the report, while 70 percent of women globally want to work in paid jobs, this figure is 87 percent in Turkey. 

So the rise in the number of women who are forced to be outside of the labor force, beyond their will, is a dangerous trend for a country where nearly 28 million people of working age are already outside the labor force. Nearly 20 million of that 28 million are women. 

According to household labor force survey results, in Turkey the employment rate of the population aged 15 and over is 46 percent. This rate was 65 percent for men and 27.5 percent for women in 2015.

Among young women, the situation is getting worse. According to official data, nearly 32 percent of females aged between 15 and 24 are neither working nor at school. So almost one in three young women in Turkey is sitting at home - and this rate has been rising. 

“Taking action on the kindergarten issue is important, but if an insurance system for caretaking is quickly established we could recruit 500,000 women at first, in addition to bringing 1.1 million women back to work who have stepped out of the labor force,” said TÜRKONFED Chair Tarkan Kadooğlu.

A new system in the labor market must be formulized to create more space for women to be able to continue their professional life as well as carry out caretaking responsibilities in their private lives, Kadooğlu added. 

Turkey lags behind developed countries in allocating social security funds to childcare and elderly care. According to the TÜRKONFED report, while the average share of these funds is 8.5 percent in the EU 28 bloc, it is just 3.1 percent in Turkey. 

In addition to the authorities, businesses must act responsibly in the area of women’s working conditions. Many companies have talked about creating fair working conditions for women, but I wonder how many of them have a nursery center or offer paid maternity leave for their employees. 

Ultimately, Turkey is unlikely to become a high-income economy country without offering equal opportunities to its female citizens.