While we are commemorating the 75th anniversary of Atatürk’s death, it appears that we haven’t reached the rate of women’s representation in Turkey’s economic and political life as in the ‘30s, still.
Last week the 7th edition of the Global Economic Forum’s Global Gender report was published. In the report, Turkey’s female labor force participation rate placed 127th among 136 countries, and located 103th in female political representation. Female Employment Participation ranking of Turkey comes after United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Oman, Egypt, Fiji and Lebanon.
When the competition and development maps of the countries are removed, employment participation, equal political representation, level of education, age of delivery and death rates are taken into account. Experts agree that there is a need for more talented individuals to protect countries’ development and competitive structure. Why is it that the majority of women who make up 50% of the world’s population are still outside the labor market? Society and the government are emphasizing social, economic and legal obstacles instead of incentives.
What should we do? First of all, it is necessary to remove obstacles in front of equal representation of women as individuals in business life. The legal responsibility in family and child rearing must be equal. More women’s participation in employment should be equally represented and evaluated by the talent, experience and training in the governing boards and independent board of directors of the companies. Economic and legal obstacles like applying inconsistent wages for genders, to the same work must be thrown away. But in this way we can protect and increase our social and economic development, our competitive power as a country.
Recently, the European Professional Business Women Network (PWN) opened its 22nd branch in Istanbul. PWN is a dynamically growing leadership development and networking platform for professional women in the business world, both internationally and locally. It is a welcome development to focus on different areas such as the establishment of many women’s associations and foundations for women entrepreneurship, employment, violence against women and education in recent years.
For women, it is now time to be an active player, not an audience, to lift barriers. For all working and non-working women, NGOs are an important platform for promoting their voices and they provide an opportunity for change. The increased representation of women in economic and political life, the improvement in education and health will not only lead us to the top of the World Economic Forum’s development report, but also sow a brighter future for our children.
* This text has been published in Haberturk Career Journal on 1 December 2013.