Women in Turkey see unemployment as the biggest problem in the country, research revealed yesterday.
According to research conducted by the Center for Public Policy and Democracy Studies (PODEM) with the aim of understanding women's perception in politics, 59.8 percent of women think unemployment is the main issue of the country that needs to be addressed. Unemployment is followed by women's issues, poverty, the economy and terrorism.
The research, named "Turkey from women's eyes: Politics, economy and public matters," has been conducted through focus group work with 84 women and face-to-face interviews with 2,832 others from 12 provinces of the country, including Istanbul, Izmir, Diyarbakır and Samsun.
Women steer clear of politics
The results of the research have revealed that women try to keep a distance from politics to stay away from the tense environment of the political arena while seeing politics as a notion that is outside of their day-to-day lives.
The first things that came to the minds of the participants when it comes to politics are the notions of "democracy, voting" and "tension, unrest."
While only 21.5 percent of the participants expressed that they were interested in politics, 39.5 percent made it clear that they had no interest in the subject. Most of the ones who were interested in politics were middle-age women, while interest in politics decreases as the socioeconomic level increases.
Moreover, 39.7 percent of the participants said politics influence their lives; 37.4 percent said politics is beneficial for the society; and 37.6 percent expressed they feel outside of politics.
Only 24 percent of the women participate in political events, with the most-attended events being rallies for the political parties. The women who have visited a political party building, however, constitute only 20 percent. Yet, despite this low percentage, 28.1 percent of the participants said women's representation in politics is at an adequate level.
Still, 62.7 percent of the women said they agree women's participation in politics would have a positive influence over the political arena, while 70.8 percent expressed that they would support a female relative's participation in politics. Some 58.7 percent said they would choose a female candidate over a male candidate.
Female voters choose parties with policies for women
The participants also said their voting preference would be affected by the parties' policies specific to women.
According to figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) last month, women, who make up 49.8 percent of the population, do not fare better than other women in the world in terms of employment. Still, the proportion of women in upper and middle-level management positions was 17.3 percent, TurkStat reported, based on 2017 statistics. Unfortunately, the female employment rate was less than half of the male employment rate, according to figures from 2017, the latest year with available statistics. The employment rate for men was 65.6 percent, while it was only 28.9 percent for women.
Statistics show that the higher the educational status of a woman, the more likely she is to participate in the labor force. The labor force participation rate for women who graduated from universities was 72.7 percent, while it was only 27.7 percent for those who only completed high school. The highest female employment rate was in the service sector. It was lower in industry and agriculture compared to men. Other TurkStat figures show the proportion of female professors in higher education was 31.2 percent in the 2017-2018 educational year, and women constituted 22.1 percent of ambassadors who work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.