Women in Turkish politics
|Women in Turkey|
The Republic of Turkey was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire on 29 October 1923. Although the political power of some Valide Sultans (queen mothers) over the Ottoman Sultans was considerable, especially during the era known as the Sultanate of Women, women had no chance to serve in any official political post in the Ottoman era.
One notable female political activist in the first days of the Republican era was Nezihe Muhittin, who founded the first women's party in Turkey in June 1923; however, it was never legalized because the Republic was not officially declared yet. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic initiated a series of reforms to modernize the country, including civil and political equality for women for the first time. On 17 February 1926, Turkey adopted a new civil code by which the rights of Turkish women and men were declared equal except in suffrage. After a short but intense struggle, Turkish women achieved voting rights in local elections by Act no. 1580 on 3 April 1930. Four years later, through legislation enacted on 5 December 1934, they gained full universal suffrage, earlier than most other countries.
The first female muhtar (village head) in Turkey was Gülkız Ürbül, who became the muhtar of Demircidere village (now Karpuzlu) in the Çine district of Aydın Province in 1933. In the elections, she ran against seven male candidates. The first female city mayor was Müfide İlhan, who was elected as the mayor of Mersin in 1950.
The Apoist progressive Kurdish movement started by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and influencing some mainly ethnic Kurdish parties like the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) or the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has the promotion of female representatives at its core. By December 2016, The New York Times headlined the situation in Eastern Turkey as "Crackdown in Turkey Threatens a Haven of Gender Equality Built by Kurds". Vahap Coskun, law professor in Diyarbakir university and a critic of the PKK, concedes that the Apoist Kurdish parties’ promotion of women has had an impact all over Turkey: "It also influenced other political parties to declare more women candidates, in western Turkey too. It has also increased the visibility of women in social life as well as the influence of women in political life," with female political candidates increasing significantly even in the ruling Islamist AKP party.
In the general elections held on 8 February 1935, 17 women deputies entered the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM)), the Turkish parliament. These were: Mebrure Gönenç, Sabiha Gökçül Erbay, Şekibe İnsel, Huriye Öniz Baha, Fatma Memik, Nakiye Elgün, Fakihe Öymen, Hatı Çırpan, Ferruh Güpgüp, Bahire Bediş Morova, Mihri Pektaş, Meliha Ulaş, Fatma Esma Nayman, Sabiha Görkey, Seniha Hızal, Benal Nevzat Arıman, and Türkan Örs Baştuğ. As a result of the by-election in 1936, Hatice Özgüner also entered parliament, increasing the number of women to 18.
Among these 18 names, Hatı Çırpan (nicknamed Satı Kadın) was especially notable, as she was from a rural area.
Following the promising 1935 start, however, the number of women in the parliament began to decrease. The minimum number was 2 women members (in 1954), but it did not improve by much in the following elections up to 1991.
|Year||No of Women MP||Ratio to total|
Since 1995, the number of women in the parliament has been on the rise. It should be noted that the 1935 percentage of women, the first year that women were able to be elected to parliament, was surpassed no earlier than in 1999.
|Year||No of Women MP||Ratio to total|
|2015 (2.term)||82||14.9 %|
Members of the Senate
- Mebrure Aksoley (1902–1984), Republican People's Party (CHP) (1964–1973)
- Fatma Hikmet İşmen, (1918–2006), Workers Party of Turkey (TİP) (1966–1975)
- Bahriye Üçok (1919–1990), State President's contingency (1971–1976). The only assassinated woman politician.
- Nermin Abadan Unat (born 1921), State President's contingency (1978–1980) 
- Aysel Baykal (1939–2003), Republican People's Party (CHP) (1979–1980)
First female Turkish party leader was Behice Boran (1910–1987). A member of the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), she was elected as the chairman of the party in 1970 and continued in this post until all the political parties were closed following the September 11, 1980 military coup. Other female party leaders were:
- Mübeccel Göktuna (1915-1999) National Women's Party of Turkey (TUKP) (1972–1981)
- Tansu Çiller (born 1946) True Path Party (DYP) (1993–2002) (Prime Minister from 1993 to 1996)
- Rahşan Ecevit (born 1923), Democratic Left Party (DSP) (1985–1987), Democratic Left People's Party (DSHP) (2010)
- Nesrin Nas (1958), Motherland Party (ANAP) (2003–2004)
- Filiz Koçali (born 1958), Socialist Democracy Party (2004–present)
- Gültan Kışanak (born 1961), Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) (2011-2014)
- Figen Yüksekdağ (born 1971), Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkey) (2012–present) As of 2014, she is the co-leader of the party.
- Emine Ülker Tarhan (born 1963), Anatolia Party (2014–present) As of 2014, she is the founder and leader of the party.
Vice-speakers of parliament
Up to the present, there have been no female speakers of parliament in Turkey. The first female vice-speaker was Nermin Neftçi of National Reliance Party in 1972. In 2007-2015 term there were two female vice-speakers: Meral Akşener (Nationalist Movement Party)  and Güldal Mumcu (Republican People's Party). In 2011 Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı of Justice and Development party (AKP) also was elected as one of the vice speakers.
Parliamentary group vice chairwomen
According to the Turkish constitution, each party with over twenty seats forms a parliamentary group and each group is represented by 1-3 group vice chairpersons (Turkish: grup başkan vekili) who are authorized to represent, in general terms, the relevant party in the parliament both in relation to the parliament administration and in relations with other party groups, as well as presiding the parliamentary group in the absence of the party president. The first female group vice chairperson in Turkish parliament was Oya Araslı of the Republican People's Party between 1996 and 1999. Currently, there are two parliamentary group chairwomen in parliament: Emine Ülker Tarhan of the Republican People's Party and Pervin Buldan of the Peace and Democracy Party.
Tansu Çiller, a career professor of economics since 1983, entered politics in November 1990, joining the conservative True Path Party) (DYP). On June 13, 1993, she was elected the party's leader, and on 25 June the same year, Çiller was appointed the Prime Minister of a coalition government, becoming Turkey's first and only female prime minister to date. She served at this post until 6 March 1996.
The first female Turkish government minister was Türkân Akyol, in 1971. She was the Minister of Health in Nihat Erim's technocratic government. In 1983, she was one of the founders of SODEP, short for Social Democracy Party, a new party which went on to become one of the major political parties of Turkey in 1980s.
Female government ministers up to the present are as follows:
|Türkân Akyol (born 1928)||Minister of Health and Social Security (1971-1971)
Minister of State (Family) 1992-1993
|Nermin Neftçi (1924-2003)||Minister of Culture (1974-1975)||CGP|
|İmren Aykut (born 1940)||Minister of Labour and Social Security (1987-1991)
Minister of State (1991 and 1996),
Minister of Environment (1997-1999)
|Güler İleri (born 1948)||Minister of State (1991-1993)||SHP|
|Aysel Baykal (1939-2003)||Minister of State (1995-1995)||CHP|
|Önay Alpago (born 1947)||Minister of State (1994-1995)||SHP|
|Işılay Saygın (born 1947)||Minister of State (1995-1996)
Minister of Environment (1996),
Minister of Tourism (1996)
|Ayfer Yılmaz (born 1956)||Minister of State (1996-1997)||DYP|
|Tansu Çiller (born 1946)||Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996–1997)||DYP|
|Meral Akşener (born 1956)||Minister of Interior (1996-1997)||DYP|
|Tayyibe Gülek (born 1968)||Minister of State (1999-2002)||DSP|
|Melda Bayer (born 1950)||Minister of State (1999-2002)||DSP|
|Aysel Çelikel (born 1933)||Minister of Justice (2002)||(non partisan)|
|Güldal Akşit (born 1960)||Minister of Tourism (2002-2003)
Minister of State (2003-2007)
|Nimet Baş (born 1965)||Minister of State (2003-2007)
Minister of National Education (2009-2011)
|Selma Aliye Kavaf (born 1962)||Minister of State (2009-2011)||AKP|
|Fatma Şahin (born 1966)||Minister of Family and Social Policies (2011–2013)||AKP|
|Ayşenur İslam (born 1958)||Minister of Family and Social Policies (2013-2015)||AKP|
|Ayşen Gürcan (born 1963)||Minister of Family and Social Policies (2015-)||(non partisan)|
|Beril Dedeoğlu (born 1961)||Minister of European Union since September 22, 2015||(non partisan)|
The abbreviations are as follows
- CGP: Republican Reliance Party
- ANAP: Motherland Party
- SHP: Social Democratic Populist Party
- CHP: Republican People's Party
- DYP: True Path Party
- DSP: Democratic Left Party
- AKP: Justice and Development Party
As of July 2016, there have not been any female presidents of Turkey.
- Female political leaders in Islam and in Muslim-majority countries
- Timeline of first women's suffrage in majority-Muslim countries
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- Milliyet newspaper (Turkish)
- "Crackdown in Turkey Threatens a Haven of Gender Equality Built by Kurds". The New York Times. 7 December 2016.
- Hacettepe University Page (Turkish)
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- An Afyon University paper by D. Ali Aslan (Turkish)
- "Tutanak C. Senatosu B: 36 18.1.1966 O:1" (PDF) (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
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- T24 online newspaper
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- Parliament page/Şükran Güldal Mumcu (Turkish)
- Radikal Newspaper (Turkish)
- Milliyet newspaper (Turkish)
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- "I. Çiller Hükümeti Bakanlar Kurulu 25.06.1993-05.10.1995" (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Çelikel: F tipine insani çözüm". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi 23. Dönem Milletvekili-Fatma Şahin" (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.