Turkey must make progress for women

01 Jan 2010

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The 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was celebrated on 18 December.

New Horizons - Although equality of rights for women is a basic principle of the United Nations, Turkey still has a long path ahead to ensure equal rights for women. In keeping with the spirit of the CEDAW Convention, the UN  acknowledged the important progress achieved so far, reminded Turkey of the long path ahead towards the fulfillment of the obligations set forth in the Convention and also drew the attention to the fact that, 30 years since its adoption, the overall objective of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women is still a priority for governments and civil society worldwide.

Turkey ratified the Convention on 20 December 1985 and its Optional Protocol in 2002, providing women with the right to submit individual complaints. Important progresses have been achieved since then. In particular, the Turkish Civil Code and the Turkish Constitution were revised in order to include the principle of non discrimination between men and women and to achieve true equality within family life. The criminalization of rape within marriage harassment in the work place the inclusion of the crime of trafficking in human beings in the Turkish Penal code in 2002 have also been landmark developments. Despite the results achieved, some areas can be improved to achieve full implementation of CEDAW, in particular violence against women; women participation in labour as well as in political and public life and mechanisms against domestic violence. Women shelter houses are not enough and women labour participation rates have been declining for the last 20 years.


“Achieving gender equality and empowering women is a goal in itself. It is also a condition for building healthier, better educated, and more peaceful and prosperous societies. When women are fully empowered and engaged, all of society benefits. Gender equality is also one of the areas in which the synergy among United Nations agencies can work at its best” stated Maurizio Busatti, co-chair person of the United Nation Gender Thematic Group. The United Nations have been supporting the Government of Turkey towards the achievement of gender equality through a broad array of projects and in particular trough the The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979, with the aim of providing the basis for realizing equality between women and men through. The Convention ensures women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life - including the right to vote to stand for election - as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. With 186 States that have ratified or acceded to the Convention the CEDAW is one of the most widely accepted human right instruments. State parties are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.


Published as part of UNDP’s 2009 global Human Development Report, the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) pointed to the inequality between men and women in Turkey with a bleak series of figures in the areas of participation in politics and income levels. According to the GEM, which is based on 2007 data, women in Turkey only make up 9% of the seats in parliament and 4% of the jobs in ministries.