1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Gender and Development (2000 - 2009)

Religion, Politics and Gender Equality in Turkey: Confrontation, Coexistence or Transformation? (Draft)



This is the draft of a country case study on Turkey in the Religion, Politics and Gender Equality Project.

The paper evaluates the effects of the intertwining of religion and politics in Turkey on women's equal opportunities. It argues that it is not the uplifting of the Islamist headscarf ban in universities that should be prioritized as a danger, but the propagation of patriarchal religious values sanctioning secondary roles for women through the public bureaucracy, the educational system and civil society organizations. Party cadres holding sexist values are infiltrating the political system. Religious movements, once banned for jeopardizing the secular political order, are now establishing schools, dormitories and off-campus Quran schools, thus socializing the young into religiously sanctioned worldviews that promote secondary roles for women. The paper argues that a vigilant and active civil society with cross-cutting alliances between liberal Islamist and liberal secular groups is an important safety valve against the promotion of secondary roles for women. It further calls for closer global links with states, institutions and people upholding women's rights as human rights in order to impede the limitation of women's equal opportunities in Turkey.

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