Ruling AKP realised women's suffrage in Turkey, says Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a video message on the anniversary of women’s suffrage, said women in Turkey had started to vote freely after his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.
“Although our women won the right to vote and run in elections in 1934, they started to exercise their rights freely with the AKP,” Erdoğan said. “Under many gains women have made in the struggle for inclusion in politics and social life, there is the AKP’s signature.”
Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan'ın, Türk Kadınının Seçme ve Seçilme Hakkını Elde Etmesinin 87. Yıl Dönümü dolayısıyla gönderdiği video mesaj https://t.co/vimGfUtUhz— T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı (@tcbestepe) December 5, 2021
“Our women gaining this opportunity much earlier than than European counterparts is an important sign, showing our nation’s view of women,” Erdoğan said. The Turkish government granted voting rights to women in 1930 and full suffrage in 1934, earlier than many countries in Europe and around the world.
“We find it of the utmost significance that this happened via regular means in politics, and not by force or coercion,” the president said.
Erdoğan accused Turkey’s secular parties of discriminating against religious women, in reference to the ban on head coverings in public offices. The president said:
“Those who separated our women based on their clothing have prevented the exercise of their constitutional rights, starting with the right to run in elections. Those who supposedly defend democracy and equality could not tolerate the presence of our women in the public sphere, as they could not in politics.”
Until the AKP came to power, Erdoğan said, representation for women in parliament did not exceed 4 percent.
“This grave picture unbecoming of the glorious fight by our women in the War of Independence only changed when the AKP came to power in 2002,” he said.
“If we were to list one by one all the work we have done regarding women’s rights, we would be here for hours,” Erdoğan said, adding that AKP would develop measures to combat violence against women.
Most recently, Turkey’s women and LGBT groups faced police violence and restrictions on their right to peaceful assembly on Nov. 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Women were kettled and pepper sprayed by riot police units in Istanbul and Ankara, as well as other provinces throughout the country, as they protested the recent series of highly-publicised violent murders and an overall increase in violence against women and LGBT persons.
Erdoğan signed an executive order in March to take Turkey out of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, following a year of public debate where Islamist groups campaigned against the treaty.
The withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention has continuously pulled women to the streets in repeated protests since the discussions began. According to polls, up to 63.6 percent of Turks were opposed to the withdrawal, while only 17 percent were in favour.
Figen Yüksekdağ, former co-chair of the second largest opposition bloc Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), alongside at least seven other female former members of parliament and dozens of mayors elected from HDP and its sister Democratic Regions Party (DBP), remains behind bars since 2016 over charges of terrorism. Charges against Yüksekdağ are based on her speeches in parliament and rallies.
In 2021, at least 355 women were killed in Turkey, according to activist-run Anıt Sayaç (“Counter Monument”), which monitors femicides in the country as the Turkish government does not keep public statistics on the matter.