Turkish women want bigger role in politics

Turkish women want bigger role in politics

Turkish women want bigger role in politics

Members of KADER paste stickers saying ‘Don’t forget women candidates’ over the faces of the leaders of Turkey’s three biggest political parties.

As the deadline for the finalization of local election electoral lists draws closer, an association of women’s groups has launched a campaign to entice political party leaders to nominate more women as candidates in 2014 elections.

“We are appealing to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli; don’t forget women candidates,” Çiğdem Aydın, head of the Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates (KADER) said on Oct. 22 in İstanbul.

Aydın was speaking at a publicity event to promote KADER and its campaign for more female candidates at the 2014 local elections.

Currently, only 26 of 2,950 mayors, 110 of 3,979 provincial council members and 1,340 of 31,790 municipal council members are women, Aydın noted. “Although women [in Turkey] were granted the right to stand in local elections in 1930, we are still being neglected. Women are not being nominated as candidates as frequently as they should therefore they cannot be elected in local elections since party leaders are the only decision-makers in the determination of candidates,” she said, adding that there’s no democracy, equality and justice in a country where half of its population is disregarded.

The KADER addressed its call to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the CHP and the MHP, however, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and its sister People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were not the target of their campaign, Aydın stressed.

“This is because both parties [the BDP and the HDP] have gender equality policies as part of their party programs and internal regulations. Since they did not forget women, they were not included as part of this campaign. We hope their stance sets an example to other political parties,” she said.

Following her speech, Aydın was asked to comment on the AKP deputies that entered a plenary session of the Parliament headscarved for the first time in the Republic’s history.

“Politicians should not use women’s dress to serve its political interests. This is not right. Everybody knows what to wear; we don’t need regulations on clothing. In this respect, it was an event that relieved Turkey. It was good,” Aydın said.

At the end of the meeting, Aydın and other board members of KADER pinned placards saying “Don’t forget women candidates” on posters of Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli.

The KADER usually campaign for more women representation before local and general elections. Most recently, they conducted a campaign titled “275 women in [550-seat] Parliament” before the 2011 general elections and “No vote if there’s no woman candidate” before 2009 local elections.