Most Turkish women feeling burn out during pandemic – study

An overwhelming 95 percent of Turkey’s women experience feelings of anxiety and burn out during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), daily Cumhuriyet reported on Saturday.

The COVID-19 outbreak, as it continues to rage on with more than 3,000 new patients diagnosed daily, has had its worst impact on Turkey’s women, with unemployment and domestic violence increasing drastically.

Ninety nine percent of female participants to the TÜSİAD study said their housekeeping and care duties increased, while 97 percent said remote working meant they were forced to work more, and 95 percent reported anxiety/depression, increased stress, and feelings of burnout.

Seventy nine percent of women said they experienced more domestic violence, while only 19 percent of male participants said they experienced the same.

Among the men in the study, 74 percent complained about not earning enough during the pandemic, 69 percent about limited access to communication technologies, and 65 percent about stress and burn out.

Offical figures painted a rosier picture, but women have been affected the worst by rising unemployment during the pandemic as women working without official documentation, two-thirds of all unregistered workers, were the first ones to be let go as they were not covered by employment protections ordered by the government, Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TÜRKONFED) Chairman Orhan Turan said during a live stream for the report.

According to U.N. Women Turkey Director Asya Varbanova, official figures showed 1.1 million women and 1.5 million men lost their jobs during the pandemic in Turkey.

“However, considering that women had a much lower participation in the workforce, they have lost a significantly higher portion,” she said.

Seventy six percent of companies took precautions, but out of all pandemic measures nationwide, only 26 percent were geared towards female workers specifically, the study found.

In a separate study, DİSK-AR, a research centre under Turkey’s largest worker’s unions federation DİSK, found that Turkey lost seven percent of its workforce in the last year. Women made up three percent of the loss, also representing a disproportionately high rate.

In 2019, 20 out of the 28.4 million working-age people outside of the workforce were women. This number increased by 1.29 million women in 2020, bringing the total to 21.53 million women outside of the workforce, Dr Çağla Ünlütürk Ulutaş told Cumhuriyet.

Sectors that predominantly employ women suffered the worst contraction, Ulutaş said, adding that 18.8 percent of women who have university degrees were unemployed. This is in part due to conservative attitudes to women working outside of the home, despite women have shown greater desire for higher education and building careers.

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) report found that several decades of progress were under threat regarding women’s participation in the workforce.

Women make up the majority of service sector workers, as well as healthcare and social services, ILO said, and as the service sector declines, women have been forced to take on more unpaid care work and lose their independence during the crisis.

ILO found that up to 90 percent of women work under the table in lower-income countries, and women make up 78.4 percent of single parents globally, which makes it more difficult for them to continue providing for their families as schools and childcare services are closed or reduced due to the pandemic.