The gender gap in Turkey's education system has virtually disappeared. But women struggle in the workplace. Only 24 percent of Turkish women are employed. And that low percentage has an impact on everything in Turkish society, from the economy to family life.
A quarter of Turkish women work outside the home
Women working in offices; it is a relatively rare sight in Turkey. Though Turkey boasts the world's 16th largest economy, only a quarter of its women work outside the house. And many of those work in the lowest-paying jobs, like farming and textiles.
That low figure is influenced by, and has an impact on, Turkish life—from culture to poverty rates.
"We need more women in leadership roles in jobs in companies. If Turkey got 29 percent of its women in the workforce that could reduce poverty by up to 15 percent," says Gulden Turktan, who runs the Women's Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey. Her group, KAGIDER by its Turkish acronym, is funded by business groups and private citizens.
Concentrating on private companies
With support from the World Bank, equal opportunity advocates like KAGIDER are targeting private companies, especially Turkish-owned private companies, encouraging them to hire and promote women.
12 percent of Turkish CEOs are women. One of them is Vuslat Dogan, who runs a leading newspaper, Hurriyet ("Freedom" in Turkish), which she took over from her father. Hurriyet employs about one thousand people.
"We started years ago with tracking our own numbers in terms of women versus men in the workforce. Initially it was 20 percent, then we targeted 25, then 30 and above, so it was really continuously checking of our own numbers of women, what we're doing in terms of employees."
Dogan is also involved in a campaign against domestic violence, which, she says, is such a problem in Turkey that it seeps into the workplace. She argues that if more women get jobs, that will offer them more freedom and autonomy as well as more opportunities to escape from home if they need to.