Fostering an Enabling Environment for Gender Equality in Turkey

What is the joint programme about?

Enabling environment for greater accountability to women (and men) by strengthening the national gender equality machinery, including the Equal Opportunities Commission fostered and by strengthening the institutional capacities of the structures ensure gender is mainstreamed in legislation and policymaking processes, subsequently translated into full-fledged implementation, regularly monitored, evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted.

What is the situation?

As an accession country to EU, Turkey is committed to develop certain policies for the promotion of gender equality. At the European Union level, gender equality is also set among the common values and successive treaties which have recognized and strengthened the instruments for the achievement of gender equality in all spheres of life. Gender mainstreaming is therefore considered to be a binding requirement for the both the member and candidate states.

According to the 2010 MDG Progress Report of Turkey, Turkey has almost reached the target of eliminating gender inequality in primary education although the proportion of girls who are not taking up secondary education is noteworthy. The MDG Progress Report highlights the existing structural inequalities; especially those related to geographical and social gender disparities as remaining challenges for the achievement of MDGs. The Report calls for special attention to Goal 3, which is the area where Turkey is encountering serious difficulties and structural obstacles and therefore is the goal with the highest risk of not being achieved by 2015. The primary gaps are found in the participation of women in decision making and in labor force. According to Gender Inequality Index (GII), this reveals gender disparities in reproductive health, empowerment and labor market participation, Turkey ranks 77th out of 138 countries.

Nevertheless, Turkey displays an important progress regarding women’s rights since 1990s. As a result of a strong women’s movement and efforts of women’s organizations as well as international monitoring activities on gender equality in Turkey, a common agenda for gender equality has been developed. Additionally, over the past 10 years, legal reforms that eliminate fundamental discriminatory provisions against women were adopted. These include provisions of the legislation for the establishment of national machinery for gender equality both in the executive, i.e. Directorate General on Status of Women and the legislative, i.e. the Equal Opportunities Commission of the Parliament; penal code’s provisions those constitute major step towards gender equality and protection of women’s human rights in terms of bodily and sexual autonomy; provisions of the civil code those abolish the supremacy of men in marriage and thus establishes the full equality of men and women in the family; provisions of the family protection law against domestic violence; ratification of Optional Protocol to “Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” (CEDAW) and municipal law no 5393, which enforce the establishment of shelters for women and children for metropolitan municipalities and municipalities with larger than 50,000 population are among the milestones in the course of gender equality.

Among the steps taken in this regard, the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission for Man and Woman represents a new and potentially very important institutional dimension of the state gender machinery, well positioned to mainstream gender equality perspective in legislation processes and outcomes as it is mandated to do both, mainstream gender in legislations and monitor the implementation of the legislations. Its establishment was welcomed by the CEDAW Committee, who recognized this as a positive development in Government of Turkey’s efforts meet commitment to gender equality. Also the EU has welcomed the establishment of the Parliamentary Equal Opportunities Commission. At the same time, however, EC and CEDAW Committee highlighted the need to make further efforts to ensure that women's rights are fully respected in practice, in all fields of life including women's participation in labor market, political representation, education for girls and violence against women.

What is UNDP’s mission?

The Social inclusion, women’s empowerment and gender equality is at the very core of the UN Development Cooperation Strategy (UNDCS) for Turkey covering 2011-2015 with two specific outcomes targeting these priorities: Outcome 4 “Increased provision of inclusive and responsive public as well as community-based services to strengthen equitable access to knowledge, information and quality basic services (education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and human safety)” and Outcome 5 “Equal participation of women ensured in all fields of public sector, private sector and civil society with strengthened institutional mechanisms to empower women’s status.” 

As stated in the Assessment of Development Result (ADR) carried out in 2009 of UNDP’s work since 2005, UNDP has made a strong contribution to social equity in Turkey and has been instrumental in promoting the concept of gender mainstreaming in Turkey and contributing to increase women’s participation in decision making processes. Building on this, UNDP’s Country Programme Document (CPD) 2011-2015 aims at building institutional and individual capacity that fosters inclusive participation and strengthens responsive and accountable governance institutions, including a deepened commitment to improving governance at the local level, with particular emphasis on building capacities on human rights and gender equality.

In the field of women’s participation to politics and decision making processes, where UNDP, in close cooperation with the women’s movement, has been investing to the establishment of institutional and human resource capacities for women empowerment, has contributed to the increase of proportion of women MPs in the Parliament and establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission of the Parliament for Woman and Man, along with its national counterparts, as well as strengthened awareness within media, particularly at local level, on gender concepts and the role media can play.

How are we doing this?

Despite The overall objective of the Programme is to contribute to enabling environment for greater accountability to women (and men) by strengthening the national gender equality machinery, including the Equal Opportunities Commission, and by enhancing their institutional capacities to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in legislation and policymaking processes, fully implemented, regularly monitored, evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted.

This objective is targeted to be achieved through a two pronged approach: i) capacity building for duty bearers such as the Parliament Equal Opportunities Commission and the legal experts of the Parliament, the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, the General Directorate in charge of women’s status, local authorities, special provincial administrations, women’s councils and gender equality bodies in municipalities and establishment of knowledge sharing platforms with parliamentarians ii) support for advocacy and monitoring of commitments to achieve gender equality to the rights holders such as CSOs and gender equality and women’s rights advocates, including experts and academics. Building on these key strategies to be followed, the Programme is expected to achieve the following outputs: i) improved capacities of the existing national gender machinery bodies to deliver on gender equality commitments, ii) strengthened gender mainstreaming into legislation, including review of the existing framework legislation through a gender lens and thus contributing to its full-fledged implementation, iii)strengthened advocacy work of women movement, including CSOs and networks working towards the elimination of gender stereotypes in all areas of life, and specifically in area of employment and political participation, iv) increased awareness among the public on gender equality.

How will Turkey benefit?

The The Programme will directly contribute to achievement of the MDG 3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as to Turkey’s overall democratic governance and local governance efforts.
Creating an enabling environment for meeting gender equality goals is a complex process and one which calls for continuous involvement of various stakeholders supporting reforms at three interrelated institutional levels:

• Review of national legislation through gender equality perspective,
• Creating incentives to better respond to the needs of women and gender equality, better monitoring performance aimed at supporting gender equality, removing barriers for women to access services, justice, etc.;
• Removing gender stereotypes.

Within this framework, the Joint Programme will build this momentum and foster an enabling environment for greater accountability to women (and men) by strengthening the national gender equality machinery, including the Equal Opportunities Commission. By strengthening the institutional structures and developing their capacities, it will ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed in legislation processes and policy making and subsequently translated into full-fledged implementation, regularly monitored, evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted.


Joint Programme Overview
Focus area:
Democratic Governance
Joint programme number:
Inception Phase was completed between 1 July-1 October 2011 and since 1 October 2011 Implementation Phase has been started.
Joint programme start date:
1 July 2011
Estimated end date:
1 July 2013
USD 1,000,000
Joint programme funding:
The total budget of the programme funded by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), and has been implementing with the UNDP and UN WOMEN.
Delivery in previous fiscal years:
Amount contributed per year by each project funder:
UN/National executing agencies:
National Executive Agent is Turkish Grand National Assembly Equal Opportunities Commission for Man and Woman.
UN/National/NGO implementing partners:
Implementing UN Partners are UNDP and UN Women. The Programme will be implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Local Authorities, General Directorate of Women Status, Union of Municipalities of Turkey, Local Authorities, Provincial Special Administrations, Women Councils, Gender Equality Departments at the Local Authorities, CSOs, Development Agencies, Relevant Department of Academia.
MDG 3:
Promote gender equality & empower women
Contact Details

Leyla Şen, PhD
Programme Manager
Tel: +90 312 454 11 19
Seher Alacacı
Programme Associate
Tel: +90 312 454 11 67
Neşe Çakır
UN Joint Programme Manager
Fostering an Enabling Environment for Gender Equality in Turkey
UNDP Turkey, CO
Phone: 0312 454 10 57


Hediye Nur Hasırcı
UN Joint Programme Manager
Fostering an Enabling Environment for Gender Equality in Turkey
UNDP Turkey, CO
Phone: 0312 454 11 34

Project Documents
Related Links
Project photos
New Horizons Podcasts - Countdown for gender equality

(in Turkish)

More podcasts
Press Releases/Speeches
  • International Convention on Gender Equality Starts in Istanbul English
  • Making a difference at the Top, Address by Honourable Maria Minna, to International Convention on Women’s Representation in Senior Management Positions in Private and Public Sector’s Senior Management English
'Every Woman Deserves Success'