October 21, 2010
We Ask the Prime Minister: Where is the Justice in that?
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated that he does not believe in gender equality because “men and women are not equal from creation” at the AKP’s 16th Consultation and Evaluation Meeting last week. Erdogan had made similar remarks at the Dolmabahçe meeting which had gathered women’s NGOs in July.
We witnessed some of the AKP’s MPs’ perspectives on gender equity as they demanded to change the name of the “Women and Men Equality Commission” to “Women and Men Equal Opportunity Commission”. They insisted that the first was against their principles and that no commision could be established under such a name. The government then refused to fill the gaps of the “positive discrimination” clause of the recent constitutional ammendments, leaving it vague and dysfunctional.
The Prime Minister’s exact words at his party’s 16th Consultation and Evaluation Meeting were as follows: “Some ladies are saying and demanding gender equality on television. This equality is acceptable for rights, but any other form is against the creation. You women should first figure out equality amongst yourselves. You have yet to solve this issue, where is the justice in that?”
Those who created the headscarf issue, turned it into a crisis, and failed to address it are male politicians who are benefiting from politicizing women’s bodies and clothes, not us women’s NGOs. AKP has only prolonged and intensified the problem rather than solving it when it easily could with clear majority in the parliament.
It looks as though the Prime Minister will insist on his position. We therefore demand the following from him:
He should publicly explain why “men and women cannot be equal due to creation”!
He should explain which opportunities women deserve to miss due to these inequalities!
Erdogan only needs to take a look at the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Inequality Report” to see which opportunities we are referring to. According to the Report, when it comes to gender inequaliy, Turkey ranks 126th among 134 countries!
In terms of education levels, be it literacy rates, primary, secondary or higher education, Turkey ranks 109th among 134. In terms of participation in the economic life, be it as a ratio of the labour force or as executives, Turkey ranks 131st while it is ironically the 17th largest economy in the world. Finally, measuring women’s political power through indicators such as ratio of seats in the parliament and cabinet of ministers, the report places Turkey at 99.
We look at this embarrassing picture and ask the Prime Minister: Where is the justice in that?