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Turkey - Shadow NGO Report on Turkey’s Initial Periodic Report to the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

[Ankara, May 2011] Submitted by Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, on behalf of the Turkish Penal Code Platform and the Executive NGO Forum on CEDAW - Turkey, this Shadow Report aims to draw attention to the discrimination and the human rights violations that women in Turkey face, within the framework of the Initial Review for Turkey under CESCR to take place in May 2011. The following evaluation and demands are based on the shadow report submitted to the U.N. CEDAW Committee in July 2010 by 20 NGOs and 6 NGO platforms.

Under the current Government’s second term (since 2007), there has been little progress in Turkey in terms of the necessary legal and institutional reforms for gender equality. The few positive steps include the establishment of a parliamentary commission on gender equal opportunity in 2009; inclusion of temporary special measures (positive discrimination) in the Turkish Constitution in 2010; and the passing of a temporary policy on social security premium reductions to promote women’s employment. While women’s NGOs commend these developments, overall, the official discourse on the issue of gender equality has been observed to increasingly acquire a reluctant, hesitant, and sometimes contradictory tone, and state commitment to substantive gender equality before the law has been inadequate.
The Prime Minister of Turkey held a roundtable meeting with women’s NGOs in July 2010 to hear their views on the so-called “democratization initiative” started by his Government.. Here he made a public statement as follows “I have to admit that, I do not believe that women are equal to men. Women and men are born different and they are different by nature but they compliment each other.” As the statement triggered protesting opposition from the NGO representatives around the table, the Prime Minister reverted “of course by saying that they are not equal, please do not take me wrong. Although I do not believe in the equality of men and women, I do believe in the equality of opportunity.” Despite calls from women’s NGOs to correct the confusion caused by his statements, the Prime Minister repeated the same position at another public meeting a few months later. The confusing messages coming from the Prime Minister regarding gender equality has triggered in the past few months, a series of public statements by a number of male NGO leaders, columnists and academics challenging the idea of gender equality, emphasizing the different nature of men and women and hence supporting preservation of distinct gender roles. One columnists of a conservative paper went as far as openly writing that women SHOULD NOT be part of the labor market.

As a result, incomplete or controversial issues still remain in the reforms that have been passed, and in implementation, tangible progress is almost nonexistent. In particular, an unwillingness to improve resource allocation hinders the achievement of full legal and actual gender equality.

Report prepared by Executive Committee for NGO Forum on CEDAW and Women’s Platform on the Turkish Penal Code:

  • Amnesty International Turkey Branch
  • The Foundation for Women’s Solidarity (FWS)
  • Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates
  • Capital City Women’s Platform
  • Çanakkale Association to Promote Women’s Labor
  • Diyarbak?r Bar Women’s Commission
  • Filmmor Women’s Cooperative
  • IRIS Equality Watch
  • KAHDEM – Center for Legal Support to Women Association
  • Purple Roof Women’s Shelter Foundation
  • Republican Women’s Association
  • The Association of Turkish Women’s Union
  • Women’s Solidarity Foundation (KADAV)
  • Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways
  • Working Group for Women in Homebased Work
  • Van Women’s Association

Direct Link to Full 18-Page Turkey NGO Shadow Report- Gender

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