Off with their mustaches!

98 women were elected to the parliament on June 7, but this number declines to 82 on November 1. Now, the parliament is full of mustaches once again. Women are unhappy because of the unequal representation, but they will carry on struggling for their demands.

After the elections on June 7, with 98 women MPs, 18% of the parliament was consisting of women and this was a record for Turkish Republic. With the elections on November 1, this percentage declined to 15%, this means that there are fewer women in parliament even compared to elections on 2011. According to the unofficial results, 34 women from AKP, 22 women from CHP, 3 women from MHP and 23 women from HDP are elected to the parliament. With elections on June 7, 41 women from AKP (16%), 21 women from CHP (16%), 32 women HDP (40%) and 4 women from MHP (5%) were elected to the parliament.

An assembly of men

Right after the elections, the Association for Supporting Women Candidates (KA.DER) made a statement: “Once again, the country will be governed by a parliament with insufficient women representation. Once again, the legislations that will be established by an “assembly of men” will ignore women. The sense of male politics that takes strength from violence, hatred, rage, fight, chaos and conflict will be in power for four more years.” Turkey Women Associations Federation (TKDF) prepared a map that shows “the cities with and without mustache” and declared that there are no women MPs from 41 cities in Turkey. So, the election means a major loss for women.  

Chair of TKDF, Canan Güllü, in her statement, said, “No room for women in politics,” and added: “There is only one woman MP who worked for a NGO for women. The problem is this: women, who constitute the half of the country, are voiceless. The wall that we face with in our professional lives is present in politics too.”

Election means a major loss for women

General Secretary of KA.DER, Dr. Pelin Taşkıran said, “Only 18% of the parliament is women and this is not even close to our demand, which is 50%. At least 30% of the parliament should be women in order for women to be a part of the decision-making mechanism.” Taşkıran said that there are many things to be worried about: “November 1 election means a major loss for women, because there is a ruling party that tries to dictate women what to do; they try to have a say on almost every right of women from marriage to abortion and how many children to have, from what to wear and when to go outside during pregnancy and etc. Of course we are worried about this attitude.” Taşkıran emphasized that the government want women withdraw from social life and stay home, and there are processes that work against women like planning flexible working conditions to direct women to stay home and to have children.

There is something more important than representation

Prof. Dr. Beyza Kural, who isn’t elected for the parliament on November 1, pointed out that having qualified women MPs is more important than the number of women MPs: “Equal representation is important indeed, but this is not only about equality in number. Staying away from patriarchal mentality and struggling for the freedom of women is more important. I believe that women MPs from HDP are like that and they will act accordingly. Thus, they will raise awareness for struggle in the parliament. And our struggle is not limited to parliament, our struggle will continue outside parliament too.” However, she emphasized that an assembly of men naturally has disadvantages: “Patriarchal mentality, equipped with all the norms and means of that system, is in the parliament. In this sense, the number of women is important.” Prof. Dr. Kural noted another point: “There is something more important than representation. Half of the country affirms all those massacres, corruption and oppression; women are also included in this 50%. That is why this election means a major loss for women. I hope that we, women, strengthen our solidarity and realize the freedom of women in every area of life.”

There shouldn’t have been a decline

CHP İstanbul MP Didem Engin said, “We want to have a parliament with equal representation of women and men. However, though we are few in number, our priority in the parliament should be dealing with the problems of women. There are many issues that should be dealt like femicide and equality in social life. Representation of women is important for a parliament where women can actively address the problems of women.”

Women are on their own again

Melek Özman from Filmmor pointed out women have to work double time again after the election: “Only HDP has equal representation and CHP has a quota for women. Considering our previous experiences, a parliament with male dominance won’t put the major problems like femicide and unemployment of women on agenda, let alone solving them. Women’s struggle for presence is everywhere of course, but we have to take our struggle to the parliament. It is unfortunate that being women means working double time everywhere, but we should do this.”

However, women will maintain their demands. Pelin Taşkıran said, “We, as KA.DER, are insistent on our demands. We insist that half of the ministers and their deputies should be woman. All committees of the parliament, especially the constitutional committee, should include woman MPs. Opinions of organizations and foundations for women should be considered in the process of changing the constitution. We say that the name of Ministry of Family and Social Policies should be changed to Ministry of Women, because we cannot accept an attitude that sees women not as individuals, but only as a member of a family. 


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Nazan Özcan