A women's organization will be launching a project backed by the European Union to increase women's involvement in local governments as well as the influence they have in decision making mechanisms, which they hope will be a first step toward overall gender equality in politics.
The European Union has awarded a 61,000 euro fund for an Association for Researching & Examining Women's Social Life project, titled "The First Step: Women in local government."
Indeed, women in Turkey are doing very poorly in terms of their power in local governments. Out of some 3,225 mayors voted in during local elections in 2004, only 18 are women, according to Ayça Akpek, head of the association and also the creator of the EU-backed women's project. In addition to the pitiably low rates of participation in politics, women in Turkey are frequently subject to oppressive and chauvinistic honor crimes, she notes. Turkey has the highest rate of female unemployment among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. A majority of some 7 million with no access to education are women.
Akpek says that the figures speak for themselves in showing how badly Turkey needs a change of not only legislation but also of mentality. "The First Step project was developed to contribute to that change and increase the number of women in political mechanisms and local governments were they can have a direct say on matters. The aim of this project is to encourage women to develop themselves in social and cultural terms and become equal members of society," -- which is no easy task. "Our civil code defined the man as the head of the household until as recently as 2002. How can women administer men when the leadership of the man is generally accepted and even recognized by the law? How can they possibly move to the top positions of political parties?" Akpek raises the question. Noting that there are various sources of gender inequality in politics, she said the project they developed only addressed some of these issues.
Akpek notes that the clichéd statements such as "women make politics more beautiful" simply do not work to defend the cause that women must become more influential in politics. Rather, according to her, this is a fundamental problem of equality. "I don't know whether women in politics would make it more beautiful. But I am certain that a world of eqality would be a better place."
The group would eventually like to expand the project to larger segments of the society to have women participate in decision mechanisms on equal terms with men and also have women who have been elected to political positions carry out work to improve gender equality.
Details of the project
Under the project, likely to be launched in March, 90 women who would like to run as opposition in local governments in the capital will be trained in the first stage of the project to compete for posts in local administrations. The training will include classes and discussions on a wide range of topics which include Turkey's political history, women's movements, gender issues, legislation on political parties, local administrations, urban development and environment policies as well as Turkey's EU-inspired changes to urban administration legislation. Attendants will later have the opportunity to attend an internship at the Çankaya Municipality where they will have the chance to see real-life examples of subjects they learned about during training. The women will also participate in conferences and workshops where politicians who've held posts as mayors will hold lectures on the industry and urbanization as well as on the role of women in local governments. The women will also form a municipal council among themselves and develop projects to turn Ankara's old Ulus district into a tourism center while retaining the neighborhood's historical texture.
A unit under the association will also be set up as part of the project to support the candidates during the campaign process in local elections.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Şubat 2008, 15:47