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Jan 09 2019

Top Turkish parties continue to marginalise women

A Turkish women’s organisation said the candidates announced so far by the four main political parties for upcoming local elections present a pessimistic picture in terms of gender equality, pro-Kurdish news outlet Artı Gerçek reported on Wednesday.

Turkey will hold nationwide elections on March 31 to choose 22,000 mayors, city council members and district representatives. The United Nations’ Women’s Program organised workshops in several cities in Turkey last year to support female candidates and gender mainstreaming in local elections. 

Though the joint statements made by top political parties and pro-democracy organisations underlined the importance of including women, the candidates announced by major political parties so far show they have generally disregarded women, the Equality, Justice and Women Platform said.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has announced 155 candidates, including just 12 women. Even worse, the supposedly liberal Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 12 women among 628 candidates. AKP ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has 11 women candidates among 410 announced and the other nationalist party in the Turkish parliament, the Good Party, headed by Meral Akşener, has so far only four women candidates out of 114.

Thus far, the AKP and CHP have each announced just one woman candidate for provincial level municipalities, while the MHP has four. The Good Party, which has so far decided on candidates for 22 provinces, has not nominated any women for provincial posts. 

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Pari (HDP) has not announced its candidates, but has a standing policy of running municipalities with women and men as co-chairs. But the HDP’s gender equality policy remains an exception in Turkish politics.

The representation of women in politics remains a real problem in Turkey. In presidential and parliamentary elections last year, the percentage of women lawmakers in the Turkish parliament increased to 17.3 percent, with 103 female members elected in the 600-seat assembly. The representation of women in the parliament was 14.7 percent in 2015 and 9.1 percent in 2007.