A record number of women, about double the current 24, won seats in Turkey's parliament in general elections, but they still face an uphill struggle to have a say in politics, activists said Tuesday.
With the electoral authorities yet to announce the official results, estimates of the number of women who made it into the 550-member house varied from 45 to 50.
The largest group of female deputies - 31 - came from the ranks of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), which won a landslide victory Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said Tuesday.
Among them are women from conservative, rural areas, where men have traditionally monopolized politics.
"This will bring additional diversity to the parliament," Sahin said.
Eager to refute accusations before the election that it was seeking to increase the role of Islam in politics and public life, the AKP lured to its ranks women with liberal views and distinguished professional careers.
Women also feature prominently among 24 Kurdish independent deputies who won parliamentary seats.
KA-DER, a support group for women candidates, hailed the outcome but said that it was still far from giving women a strong voice in politics.
The increase is unlikely to substantially improve Ankara's global ranking by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of 123rd in terms of female representation in national parliaments.
"As long as equality is not ensured, we cannot call this a true democracy. It is rather a men's democracy," KA-DER chairwoman Hulya Gulbahar told the Anatolia news agency. "We want an equal number of men and women in the new government ... A prime minister who genuinely believes in gender equality should do that," she said.
In a pre-election campaign for stronger female representation, KA-DER put fake mustaches on prominent actresses and businesswomen in ads that asked: "Must you have a moustache to make it to parliament?"
The low number of women in parliament has long embarrassed Turkey, which prides itself in having obtained full suffrage as early as 1934, well before European countries as France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland.
In urban areas, Turkish women are emancipated to the point of claiming jobs as football referees and fighter pilots.
The majority, however, remains in the grip of die-hard patriarchal traditions that, in some parts of the mainly Kurdish southeast, go as far as to approve honor killings - the murder of female clan or family members perceived as unvirtuous.
Women's groups argue that Turkey should amend its laws to introduce a 30-percent quota for women in parliament, but their demand has so far been ignored.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2007, 18:02