Women’s groups protest reported shut-down of parliamentary committee

Women’s groups protest reported shut-down of parliamentary committee

Women’s groups protest reported shut-down of parliamentary committee

Members of the KEFEK are seen in this file photo during a meeting with the Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek.

Turkey’s leading women’s rights organizations and the main opposition party have voiced strong concerns over claims that a parliamentary committee working on women’s rights will be transformed into a new committee focusing only on family policies.

Despite Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin seeking to rule out the claims, they still want the government to assure that such plans are not being made.

Tens of non-governmental organizations, most of which focus on gender issues, put an advertisement in a number of newspapers on Dec. 5, asking the government whether it will abolish the Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women and Men (KEFEK).

“KEFEK, which has been operating as a part of Parliament, is sought to be shut down. A ‘Committee on Family and Social Policies’ is sought to be established,” it read.

The advertisement also claims that this is not a first, saying the government has removed the term “women” from a number of public institutions working on women’s issues.

This started with the renaming of the Women and Family Ministry to the Family and Social Policies Ministry. The General Directorate for the Status of Women (KSGM) has also been made non-functional and it is only a matter of time until the institution is closed, the advertisement also stated.

Demanding an explanation from the government, the groups’ statement called for all parliamentary parties to act against the issue, saying “enough is enough.”

In apparent response to the advertisement, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Umut Oran filed a written motion on Dec. 5, demanding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan respond.
“Why are you erasing women’s name from the state? Do you order these name changes? Did you order this because of the word of ‘woman’?” he asked in the motion.

Oran also asked the prime minister what the government had done to improve women’s rights in Turkey since Nov. 18, 2002, the date Erdoğan took office.

Minister seeks to soothe concerns

Responding to the claims, Family Minister Şahin said the committee’s name should not change. “Parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women and Men is an important committee. It should remain the same without any name change,” she said.

Şahin added that she did not know of any plans to change the name, and also pledged not to allow the abolition of the commission.

“We wouldn’t permit such a thing, while fighting for gender equality. Everybody should be at ease,” she said.