Turkey ‘conservative’ on women’s role

Turkey ‘conservative’ on women’s role

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey ‘conservative’ on women’s role

Some 61 percent of respondents agree with the sentence, ‘it might be good to have a job, but most women actually primarily want a home and a child,’ according to a recent survey conducted in 59 cities across Turkey.

A majority of Turkish society sees women’s role at home as being predominantly to raise children and most Turks believe the ideal number of children is two or three, according to a survey made public on Nov. 5.

The International Social Survey Program’s field study, conducted in 48 countries, was performed by Professor Ersin Kalaycıoğlu from Sabancı University and Professor Ali Çarkoğlu from Koç University. Some 1,555 respondents in 59 cities participated in the survey.

One of the significant findings of the survey was that the concept of family maintains its importance in Turkey, with women mainly seen as homemakers. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they believed that a pre-school child is likely to be negatively affected if they have a working mother. Some 48 percent of respondents also disagreed with the proposition that, “a working woman can establish an equally close and confident relationship with her child as a non-working mother.”

Sixty-one percent agreed with the suggestion that, “it might be good to have a job, but most women actually primarily want a home and a child.”

Most respondents said that having a job was less satisfactory than being a housewife, while only one fifth of respondents disagreed.

Mental culture

These findings, according to Kalaycıoğlu and Çarkoğlu, point to the fact that the mental culture in Turkey sees women’s primary role as a housewife.

However, when it comes to answering the economic needs of the family, expectations from women increase. Two out of three respondents said both men and women should contribute to the household income, while those against this were 14 percent.

This contradiction, that on the one hand women should stay at home and raise children but on the other hand contribute to the household income, points to the transitional phase Turkey finds itself in, the researchers say. 

“There is a conviction that it is difficult to survive with just one income in the city. But there is a discrepancy between the awareness about the requirements of the city and the mental change that is required to adapt to the city’s realities,” said Kalaycıoğlu.

When looked at real life, the view of both men and women contributing to the household income seems to be simply wishful thinking. Half of men said their wife did not have an income, while only 6 percent of the women said their husband did not have an income. As men are the main breadwinners in the vast majority of families, it is not surprising that 61 percent said decisions on how to spend household income were mostly made by men. Only 16 percent of women said they were in total charge of spending household income.

Meanwhile, children are seen as both a source of happiness and an economic cost. Some 43 percent of the respondents said the ideal number of children in a family was two, while 36 percent said the ideal number was three.

Turks are generally against gays or lesbians raising children, the survey also shows. More than 70 percent disagree that gay or lesbian couples can raise children equally as well as heterosexual couples.
There is a clear gap among men and women when it comes to the work at home, such as shopping and cleaning. 14 percent of male respondents said they do home cleaning all the time, while the percentage of women is 86. When these rates are compared to the same survey conducted 10 years ago among other countries, there was also a large gap between Turkey and the rest of the world’s situation in 2002.

Some 35 percent of respondents said the state should be responsible for covering the cost of pre-schooling, while 61 percent said it should be the family.