Turkey is a country of gender-equality paradoxes. Women hold almost half the academic positions and are one-third of the country’s engineers and lawyers, yet they are virtually absent from the highest levels of political power, with only one woman currently in the cabinet (Muftuler-Bac 2015). While 1 in 8 chief executive officers in Turkey are women (against around 1 in 14 in the United States), the female labor force participation rate is the lowest among comparable Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (Muftuler-Bac 2015).
This unevenness is captured in Turkey’s performance on the WPS Index. Its overall ranking of 105 is 54 places below its income rank and partly reflects low female employment rates and a share of women in parliament standing at 15 percent. Legal discrimination and deep-seated norms appear to be major constraints. Violence against women is another major challenge in Turkey, with almost 40 percent of women experiencing physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime. President Erdogan has declared that men and women are not equal and that believing so goes against nature. A number of politicians reinforce the view that women’s role in society is that of traditional homemaker and mother (Muftuler-Bac 2015).