In the article Bagis and Sahin wrote:
“As the government we consider women’s issues as a matter of democracy and in the context of our determination to have an advanced democracy, we strive for women’s rights and greater socioeconomic participation of the women in the broadest way possible. The 9-year period of AK Party government has been a time in which women’s rights were started to be exercised at the most advanced level, as the same was true of the rights of all segments of the society in Turkey, and it has been a time in which the will to fully attain the EU standards for Turkish women was shown. The visionary and determined stance of our Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan which put the women and the young in the centre of attention throughout his political life has always been encouraging for Turkish women.
In the same way, the leading involvement of Mrs. Emine Erdogan, the esteemed spouse of our Prime Minister, in social responsibility projects, for the resolution of women’s issues has given Turkish women a great self-confidence. Mrs. Emine Erdogan’s visit to Uludere and sympathizing with the families of our citizens who lost their lives there has been most meaningful scene which touched the hearts of the women of the region as well. In fact, it is evident that lack of courage and self-confidence is among the main reasons lying behind the long lasting problems in the area of women’s rights in Turkey. We are of the view that the most important achievement in the area of women’s rights during the AK Party government has been Turkish women’s restoring their self-confidence. Furthermore, the barriers in front of the women have started to be removed one by one through the revolutionary reforms and the legal and administrative arrangements introduced by our government.
Right after our coming to power nine years ago, with the amendment we made in the Constitution, we inserted the expression “Men and women have equal rights. The State shall have the obligation to ensure that this equality exists in practice” into the 10th Article of the Constitution. We introduced positive discrimination for women through the amendment which was adopted with the referendum held on 12 September 2010 and in this respect we blazed a trail. We opened the way for removal of legal barriers in front of Turkish women through the amendments we introduced in Labour Law, Turkish Criminal Code and Municipal Law. The Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men which we established in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey provided an important incentive for our women especially in terms of political participation. Lastly, with Turkey being the first signatory state of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence done in Istanbul, and with the passing of Draft Law on Protection of the Family and Prevention of Violence Against Women in the Justice Committee at the TGNA, we continue to eliminate the deficiencies in the legal area.
We gladly observe that our women also make an active contribution to the new process which began as the will to have a civilian Constitution and that they follow this process closely. That the legal arrangements create an occasion for promotion of the status of the women by means of being not only planned but implemented is of great importance. Unfortunately, Turkish women who attained their rights much earlier than the women in the Western countries now have fallen behind their equals in the Western societies in terms of implementation of these rights.
The importance of the European Union process with respect to our women comes on the scene right at this point. It is obvious that the traditional role of Turkish women will become stronger with the European Union membership. In addition to this, the dynamic and pro-change structure of the women in Turkey will continue to increase Turkey’s speed on its path to the contemporary civilization and besides will strengthen the place of Turkish women in the European women movement. At this point even though we admit that there still exists a negative picture when we take the EU standards as a basis, the rapid progress we achieved in the last nine years is encouraging for the future. As a matter of fact women have always been in the front rows in establishment and advancement of our Republic.
There is also involvement, labour, great effort and struggle of our women in Turkey’s democracy experience and development moves. Today again we witness these sacrifices and efforts with happiness and pride. Here one should take note of one point in particular. Gender equality is only possible when all living spaces are jointly used by men and women and not when these spaces are divided among them. We do not think that an approach dividing the world into two equal parts between men and women is the right approach. It should be once more emphasized that policy, democracy and administration without women is a deficiency not only for women but also for all society. In fact, ostracizing women from education, production, labour force, society, justice and politics means destroying half of the power of the society. Any type of discrimination against women is out-of-date. Violence against women is a crime against humanity. Any mentality which treats women as second-class citizens and which humiliates, despises and discriminates women on the grounds of their clothing, colour and beliefs is out-of-date. We all very well know that a Turkey where women enjoy a higher status will make more rapid progress to achieve its future targets.
We celebrate 8 March International Women’s Day and we hope that this meaningful day would be an occasion for promotion of peace, justice and love for all humanity.
“O mankind! I recommend that you observe the rights of women and fear Allah in this aspect. Verily you have certain rights over your women and your women also have certain rights over you.” (Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), The Farewell Sermon)