Survey reveals extent of gender pay gap in Turkey

Turkish women face a stubborn disparity in pay and employment compared to men, regardless of their education said state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). 

The institute’s Women In Statistics survey, which explores how women fare in business, education, and various other fields, revealed that women in Turkey on average earn 46,208 lira ($7,584) annually in gross earnings while men make 50,297 lira ($8,255).

The gender pay gap was in favour of men at all education levels, and the gap was 7.7 percent in total said TurkStat. The biggest gender pay gap disparity was 28.8 percent between men and women who were vocational high school graduates.

The highest monthly average gross wage for women was in the finance and insurance sector where they earned an average of 6,428 lira ($1,055) said TurkStat. Women earned the lowest levels of pay in the accommodation and food service sectors.

The survey, released ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, found that the employment rate for women was 29.4 percent for women, compared with 65.7 percent among men.

The provinces of Kastamonu, Sinop and Çankırı had the highest rates of female employment, at around 40 percent. Mardin, Batman, Şırnak, and Siirt had the lowest employment rate for women, at around 11 percent according to TurkStat figures.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged in his party's manifesto to end "every tradition of the age of ignorance targeting women." The Turkish government has in recent years introduced longer maternity leave, extended payments to grandparents caring for grandchildren, and pledged to increase the employment rate to at least 41 percent in the near future and to ensure more business loans are offered to women. 

Despite the negative indicators on pay and employment, the TurkStat survey on life satisfaction found that Turkish women are happier than men. The proportion of happiness for women was 57% in 2019 while it was 47.6% for men.

The Gender Parity report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for 2019 said it would take 257 years at the current rate of change to accomplish full equality for women in economic participation. According to the WEF report, only 55% of adult women worldwide are in the labour market, compared to 78 percent of men.