ANKARA, April 12, 2013---On April 9th 2013, the Turkey Country Office of the World Bank co-hosted a workshop entitled “Women in Sector” on female employment together with the Ministry of Family and Social Policy in Turkey under the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) financed “Women’s Access to Economic Opportunities in Turkey” Program.
The objective of the workshop was to identify the employment and entrepreneurship barriers women face and to discuss mechanisms that could be developed to redress these issues.
Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Şahin and Country Director of the World Bank, Martin Raiser welcomed the guests with their opening speeches. Prof. Dr. Hakan Ercan from the Middle East Technical University delivered a presentation on the “Situation Analysis and Current Challenges for Women Seeking Employment in Turkey.” An audience of around 100 people from different government agencies, civil society, the private sector, and academia attended this lively workshop which continued with parallel sessions that focused on the issue of Women Employment under specific sectors of the economy – including textile, the food industry, banking, and tourism.
The findings of the discussions were interesting. Despite the fact that Turkey has seen significant improvements in women’s welfare, especially in health and education, large gender inequalities still remain in access to economic opportunities. When it comes to jobs and earning a living- only about a quarter of working-age women are employed, and more than half of those are in the informal sector or sectors that are often perceived to be more apt for women.
Improving women’s access to more and better jobs as well as opportunities for entrepreneurship are crucial to enhancing productive employment in Turkey. But this is not all. Improving the socio-economic welfare of women would also improve the welfare of the whole society. And increasing women’s access to economic opportunities will also have a positive impact on the participation of women in politics and decision-making in general.
The findings of the Workshop also suggest that for women that are currently employed in Turkey, there are both large sectoral and regional variations in the degree to which women are involved in the labor force – meaning that policy instruments may have to be calibrated accordingly.
Overall, it was a very successful event and a good start for a three year program of engagement together with SIDA to boost important undertakings and efforts by officials in Turkey to ensure that women here can realize their opportunities and achieve their full potential. The broader program will support ongoing efforts by strengthening Turkey’s policy making structures, facilitating knowledge sharing - including Turkey’s experience with other countries- and awareness-raising initiatives.