The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has escalated efforts to expand the number of its women's branches across the country, especially in the eastern parts where it has established a women's organizational structure for the first time in its history.
"We have formed new women's branches in (the eastern provinces of) Bitlis, Iğdır, Kilis and Bayburt, along with 100 more districts. In 66 of these places, our party has formed a women's branch for the first time," Aylin Nazlıaka, head of the CHP's women's branches, said Tuesday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Nazlıaka stated that the party conducts its efforts in two ways, one targeting the problems within while the other is handling the issues outside the party. When it comes to internal works, the CHP's main focus is on organizational activities, Nazlıaka said.
She expressed that since the day she filled this position, she and her team have been working on determining the missing elements within the local organizations of the party and their women's branches, escalating efforts to come up with solutions.
"Our organizations have started to get younger. The average age has dropped among our provincial heads. We have younger provincial and district heads," Nazlıaka continued.
The CHP's headquarters is in Ankara, but every city has its own party branch and all of these branches have their own women's branch that is connected to the headquarters. The towns in the cities similarly also have their own branches and women's branches.
Nazlıaka also heralded that with the new year, the party will launch an education mobilization in its women's branches.
When it comes to their work outside the party, Nazliaka expressed that they are in touch with the women's branches of other political parties in their aim to increase the number of female parliamentarians.
"Three hundred of 600 deputies within Parliament should be women," she underlined and added: "The issue of women's rights is not a struggle that only interests women. It is a human right, a struggle for democracy."
In 1934, Turkish women were among the first in Europe to gain the right to vote and run for elected office through a constitutional amendment. In 1930, Turkish women were granted suffrage in local elections held that year. Since then, women have been active in national politics and founded the National Women's Party of Turkey in 1972 and the Women's Party in 2014.
There has been an increase in the number of women elected to Parliament in recent decades. While in 1935 only 4.5% of lawmakers were women, this share increased to nearly one in five legislators in 2019, even with the number of lawmakers rising from 401 to 600. Today, there are 102 female lawmakers in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, just about 17% of lawmakers. Although women have a relatively larger presence in Parliament, only four out of 81 provincial mayors are women.
Though statistics point to improvements in women’s representation, politics largely remains a man’s game in Turkey, reflecting society’s overall perspective on female politicians.