Women should be at center of development: family minister

Women should be at center of development: family minister

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Women should be at center of development: family minister

The role of women in society, and how to boost their contribution to development and democratization, are discussed with participation of Minister Şahin (inset) at a session during the 15th Eurasian Economic Summit .DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜREL

In order for development to be sustainable, women should be placed at the center of development policies, Fatma Şahin, Turkey’s minister of family and social policies, said yesterday during the ministers’ session of the Eurasian Economic Summit.

“Peace in society depends on sustainable development. Women should be placed at the center of development to make it sustainable. We have to activate the potential of women in every field. The rule of law, democratization and sustainable economic development are indispensable for us,” Şahin said. Increasing per capita income, maintaining advanced democracy, and maintaining the rule of law are all important for women’s rights, she said, adding that the government has achieved a transformation in civil society during the last 10 years, referring to the period that the Justice and Development Party has been in office.

“Before, we were marginalizing and not listening to each other. We could not discuss these issues. Now we listen to each other more. They [society at large] listen to us, too. This is important for democratization and the level women have reached.”

One needs to catch the zeitgeist first, she said, touching on deep regional differences. “Where is the [advanced] world? And where are we? Is there one kind of world if we look at the old and modern world? Take a look at the problems that Scandinavian countries face and then take a look at the Middle East. Compare parliaments in both regions. [You will see that] we live in a world of extremes.”

Referring to the increasing rates of women serving in parliaments and industry, Şahin said, “There are women who say ‘I want to elect my own policymakers. This is my innate right. I want the ballot box,’ and fight for it.”

An issue bigger than party politics

The issue of women’s inclusion is bigger than political parties, said Sebahat Tuncel, a deputy from the Peace and Democracy Party and a member of the Commission on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men, speaking at meeting titled “Searching for a public accord on gender equality.”

“We [women] can understand each other. We can form a new language at this point. A beautiful future is in our hands.

We want to live in a good and equal world. We do not want to be discriminated against because of our gender, language, or identity. The world belongs to all of us. We will decide how to live here,” she said, adding that women should be more organized to achieve greater rights.

Binnaz Toprak, a deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in the same meeting that 33 percent of CHP representatives in Parliament are women, and this is an achievement. “It is not easy to break down the resistance of men, but [our] campaign has been very successful.”