Women in Turkey Dropping Out of the Labour Force for Domestic Reasons

Women in Turkey. Photo by: Shahram Sharif.

ANKARA, Turkey (ViaNews) – Only 33.6 percent of women in Turkey are in the labour pool. A recent report, conducted by Bahcesehir University Center for Economic and Social Research (BETAM), shows that women, once they have children, quit their jobs and become housewives. But in most cases, Turkish women are not in search of a job as they believe the main responsibilities of a married woman are housekeeping and childcare. Consequently, the percentage of women who are not involved in the labour force is record high as 61.8 % in Turkey.

According to the latest report on Cumhuriyet, a Turkish left-wing newspaper, women cannot grow or thrive in workplaces as the male dominant culture doesn’t give women that right claiming the “nature of work” women do is different than that of men. As a result of that, 52.2 percent of unemployed women between ages 15-44 state that they have at least worked once at some point in their lives but have had to quit their job for various personal reasons.

Why Some Women Take the Conservative Route

The study by BETAM indicates that being a housewife is already difficult work for women in Turkey and also the main reason for them to drop out of the labour force. The marital status of these women tells the story. The majority of the women who were dismissed from or quit their jobs at some point in their lives are married whereas only 58.5 percent of working women in Turkey are married.

Women in Turkey. Photo by: Shahram Sharif.
Women in Turkey. Photo by: Shahram Sharif.

This situation proves the inherent perception that men are seen as the primary breadwinners in a household and women are fit for different types of work such as cleaning and looking after children. In fact, 68 percent of women who gave up their jobs because of marriage are in their twenties. On the other hand, the educational background of spouses plays an important role in this case since those who are well-educated tend to keep their jobs and continue on their career path even if they are married.

GREVIO calls for preventing gender-based violence

GREVIO, Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, report that there is no official data on violence against women in Turkey and the system is inefficient at monitoring and protecting victims, in fact, sometimes cause further secondary victimisation.

GREVIO’s report suggests there should be amendments in criminal law as the law enforcement authorities in Turkey are inefficient at monitoring forced marriages, child abuse, rape and persistent investigation of these criminal cases.

Concerning these issues, GREVIO reminded Turkey that women should be encouraged to gain their financial independence and the government’s role in public services such as free healthcare, free childcare, public housing and employment is crucial.

GREVIO also emphasized another important issue In the report. Non-governmental and women rights organisations who work for the Istanbul Convention and many other organizations are struggling to survive as most of them are facing pressure by the government.

Not Just Women but Everyone who Speaks Out for Human Rights Are Possible Suspects

With the failed coup attempt in 2016 hundreds of activists, academics and journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey have been detained for speaking out or simply for doing their jobs and the danger is still out there.

Despite that, Turkey’s human rights communities are deeply committed people and similarly, the young population is also not afraid of being politically active in LGBTQ groups or on social media.

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