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Women rights activists criticize low number of female candidates in upcoming elections


March 20, 204

Credits @FFHR.CZ

Women’s rights activists have criticized the low number of female political candidates in Turkey’s upcoming local elections, saying it reflects the gender divide in the country, the Duvar news website reported

According to the report, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has four female candidates, while the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has eight. Only the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) put forward an equal number of female candidates. 

Özgül Kaptan, from the Women for Equality Platform (EŞİK), said local elections are highly important for all political parties because success will mean they gain financial and administrative power in provinces. “Men do not want to share that power with women,” she explained. “So parties do not want to put forward female candidates and just say women don’t want to be candidates, anyway.” 

She added that equal representation in politics was not a privilege but a right. 

Süheyla Doğan, another volunteer for EŞİK, said she had tried to put her candidacy forward with the CHP but that it had been a very difficult process. 

“Many women activists like me tried to become candidates, but eventually our candidacy was not accepted. According to the CHP’s internal regulations there is a 30 percent quota for female candidates. But they haven’t even met this quota,” Doğan said. “Such a low number of female candidates is unacceptable.”

Activist Ayse Kaşıkırık said the number of women in local administrations was woefully low. “Only 2 percent of neighborhood representatives [muhtar] are women, and in many neighborhoods the residents scorn female candidates and demand a male.” She added that candidates’ clothing, marital status and number of children were often held against them. 

Reports have repeatedly found that gender inequality is visible in all walks of life in Turkey. 

report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Turkey 129th among 146 countries as regards gender equality. 

The Global Gender Gap 2023 report indicated that Turkey had dropped five places in the global ranking in comparison to the previous year. Moreover, Turkey ranked the worst in gender equality in the Middle East and Eurasia category. 

The rankings were made taking into consideration women’s contribution to the labor force, their access to education and healthcare, political participation and the rate of femicide in the country.

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