Seminar titled “Women’s participation in the workforce in Turkey and the EU: The other side of the mirror”

Seminar titled “Women’s participation in the workforce in Turkey and the EU: The other side of the mirror” was hosted by S&D, MEP Kati Piri, co-organised with KAGIDER and European Parliament Turkey Forum, with the support of Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) on 21st of June at the European Parliament. During the seminar Sanem Oktar, President of KAGIDER shared information on the female employment rate which was less than half of male employment rate. She stated that “In Turkey the employment rate of population aged 15 and over was 46%; this rate was 65% for males and 27.5% for females in 2015. As Turkey has the lowest female labour force participation rate among OECD countries, increasing female participation in the workforce is one of the most effective levers for GDP growth for Turkey. If Turkey were to increase its female labour force participation rate to OECD average of 63%, it would boost the country’s GDP by ~20% by 2025. According to EU 2020 Strategy One of EU-level headline targets is to raise to 75% the employment rate for women and men (aged 20–64) by 2020 . We believe that setting goals that we can empower women with strong policies backed with legislation requires commitment and implementation at all level. Oktar has also stressed that KAGIDER believes in the EU accession process and Turkey’s full membership to the EU. She said that “Women in the EU and Turkey have already been working together hand in hand for decent work, better regulation and implementation of gender equality at all levels. We share the same issues, same challenges and problems as we share the solutions and actions to overcome those challenges. Now we have to work even more, together with our institutions and all the actors to move forward to achieve our goals. Continuing accession negotiations and opening chapters should be our first priority.”
At her speech, Co-Founder of KAGIDER and WEPs Business Advocate Ms Nur GER stated important points: “I was part of the Customs Union Delegation as the President of the TCMA (1994-1996). EU and Turkey, whom were sitting on the opposite sides of the table up to Customs Union, had the opportunity to sit side by side when it came into force. EU's biased policy towards Turkish full membership combined with Turkey's unwillingness of doing its homework, brought us to a deadlock. Modernization of the Customs Union might be a new opportunity of generating a new climate which would eventually lead to opening new chapters of the negotiation. We will remember Helmut Kohl with full respect as a visionary founding figure of European Union as well as as a person whom enabled unification of East and West German. Both European Union and Turkey, we need young visionaries of Mr Kohl’s spirit. As European women have played a crucial role in transforming their societies at 60’s and 70’s, today we are in the same position as Turkish Women. Gender equality and putting women in the workplace are indispensable for a country’s economic prosperity and development.  Let us imagine for a minute that today as EU and TURKEY we would have been able to agree on inclusion of a new chapter " Gender equality in Turkey "and agree to start negotiating only this chapter. That climate would be sufficient to generate economic and social turmoil which would eventually lead to re-opening of the other chapters.

The other speakers were Mary Collins, European Women's Lobby (EWL) and Ms Claire Courteille, Director of ILO-Brussels office. During her speech Mary Collins has stressed that there is no equality anywhere yet but the numbers and the situation varies in the EU and the globe. She has highlighted that women's unpaid work is a major area that is ignored but women’s unpaid contribution to economy is calculated between 10 to 30 % of GDP. Even though the EU2020 target of employment is 75% at the moment women’s employment rate is at 65%. This is also because of women part-time work and caring responsibilities. They both have lifelong consequences in women’s lives. Pension gap is at 40% as EU average. We only have 6% women CEOs. On the future of Europe women has to be sitting on the right side of the table our common future should be shaped together 

Clarie Courteille Director of ILO Brussels Office has also shared ILO’s work on the ground including the framework of women’s participation to workforce. She has shared the legal framework and recent initiatives of the ILO on the ground.

Seminar was followed by the screening of the documentary “You can doit! Yapabilirsin!”. You Can Do It!” is a documentary that puts the spotlight on nine Turkish women from different parts of the country, who have succeeded in changing their lives and surroundings. Supported by prominent Turkish Businesswoman Ms Nur Ger and prepared by journalist Ms Tuluhan Tekelioğlu, the documentary shows how women make the change happen even when they face all kinds of gender inequality-related problems that occur in the country.  The movie is a successful showcase for those who want to become entrepreneurs and change-makers, regardless of their level of education, social and economic background